Former Lorain County Domestic Relations Judge Paulette Lilly missed the Friday deadline to pay court-ordered fines and costs totaling $4,633.15 for violating campaign rules during her unsuccessful March bid in the Democratic primary to return to the bench, according to the Ohio Supreme Court.
Lilly’s failure to make the payments on time will result in her being held in contempt of court, and she will have to pay a 10 percent yearly interest rate on the unpaid balance, according to the April 19 order from a five-judge commission that heard the case for the Ohio Supreme Court’s Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline.
The matter also is supposed to be forwarded to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office for collection, according to the order.
Rick Dove, secretary to the Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline, said he’s unaware of a previous instance in which a judicial candidate has been sanctioned but failed to pay the fines and costs.
Court records show that recent certified mail sent to Lilly, who did not return a call seeking comment Monday, regarding the case against her has been returned unclaimed.
Dove said attorneys in the state are required to keep the Supreme Court apprised of their current addresses.
At the center of the complaint against Lilly was campaign literature and signs that a three-member panel and a five-judge panel determined were misleading and could lead voters to conclude Lilly was still a sitting judge.
Lilly was on the bench for 12 years before being defeated by current Domestic Relations Judge David Berta in 2006. Berta was himself defeated in March by Lorain attorney Lisa Swenski, who is unopposed in the fall.
Lilly lost her own five-way primary battle to Amherst lawyer Frank Janik, who will face Republican Richard Ramsey in November in the race to replace retiring Domestic Relations Judge David Basinski.
Elyria attorney Jonathan Rosenbaum filed the original complaint against Lilly.
The original panel said while some of Lilly’s material made it clear she was no longer on the bench, other material wasn’t as clear and the cumulative effect was misleading to voters. The panel in particular took issue with Lilly’s use of the word “return” in front of her name.
The five-judge commission agreed and issued a cease-and-desist order to Lilly just days before the primary.
The original panel recommended a $3,000 fine, but the five judges who reviewed that finding reduced it to a $1,000 fine and publicly reprimanded Lilly. She was also ordered to pay $2,283.79 in court costs for the case as well as $1,349.36 in court costs from a 2008 case in which her literature was determined similarly misleading.
Lilly paid the $300 fine she was given during the 2008 campaign, in which she also was defeated.
Lilly has insisted that she wasn’t trying to deceive voters and believed her use of the word “return” was an accurate description of what she was trying to do.
The panels also took issue with Lilly’s claim that Dove had reviewed her campaign material and said it was fine. But, according to the five-judge commission and Dove’s email to Lilly, he had warned her not to use a photograph of herself in a robe, which she did and the commission later ordered her to stop using it unless it was accompanied by a prominent disclaimer that she was not a current judge.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or email@example.com.