Judge Michael R. Muth has been charged by the Judicial Conduct Board of Pennsylvania with viewing pornographic videos and images at work in full view of court clerks on multiple occasions, and using county employees for his personal use.
From January 2006 to the present time Michael Muth has been an elected Magisterial District Judge in Monroe County, Pennsylvania. Prior to being elected a judge, he was Monroe County’s top public defender for 25 years. For about 20 years the 66-year-old Muth has also been employed as a part-time Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at East Stroudsburg University in Monroe County. Muth’s biography on the ESU website states he also coaches junior high girls basketball at the Roman Catholic Notre Dame Junior/Senior High School in East Stroudsburg. Monroe County is about 100 miles north of Philadelphia.
A complaint was made to the Judicial Conduct Board regarding alleged conduct by Judge Muth that was deemed substantial enough that the JCB began an investigation on August 15, 2016.
The investigation found evidence that:
- Beginning in the summer of 2013 Monroe County Court clerks observed Muth watching videos of nude women having sex, and viewing pictures of naked women performing sexual acts on each other. His clerks allege that he not only did nothing to hide his computer screen from them seeing what he was watching and viewing, but his computer was “positioned in such a manner that any person walking into Judge Muth’s judicial chambers could see the display.” The clerks alleged that Muth persisted in watching videos and viewing nude photos.
- During regular court hours Muth used court clerks from 2006 until December 2016 to determine the number of correct and incorrect answers on examinations he administered to his ESU students, and to grade those examinations. Muth also used court clerks to make photo copies of documents for him to provide to his ESU students.
Muth admitted during his February 24, 2017 deposition before the Judicial Conduct Board that he possessed and viewed pornography on his judicial computer in his chambers, and that he used court clerks to make photocopies at county expense.
On July 5, 2017 the Judicial Conduct Board formally charged Muth with several violations of the Standards of Conduct of Magisterial District Judges. Those charges included:
- Muth failed to conduct himself at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary by viewing and displaying photographs and videos of nude women; engaging in sexual harassment by exposing court staff to pornographic videos and pictures; and he failed to diligently discharge his administrative responsibilities by utilizing court clerks to grade examinations of his ESU students and make photo copies.
- Muth violated the “Priority of Judicial Business” and didn’t give “Precedence to the Duties of Judicial Office” by using court staff to make copies and grade papers that assisted him in his outside occupation of being a part-time assistant professor.
- “Judge Muth engaged in conduct so extreme that it brought disrepute upon the judicial office itself.”
- “Judge Muth engaged in conduct prohibited by the Unified Judicial System Policy on Non-Discrimination and Equal Employment Opportunity prescribed by the Supreme Court.”
Unless Muth and the Judicial Conduct Board reach a negotiated agreement, a public trial will be held before the Court of Judicial Discipline. If any of the charges are proven by clear and convincing evidence then Muth “may be suspended, removed from office or otherwise disciplined for . . . [his] conduct.”
As of July 16, 2017 Muth has not been suspended pending the outcome of the legal proceedings against him from his job as girls junior high basketball coach at Notre Dame Junior-Senior High School in East Stroudsburg; his job as an assistant professor at East Stroudsburg University; or his job as a Magisterial District Judge.
The filing of charges against Muth is an anomoly. In 2016, 804 complaints were filed with the Judicial Conduct Board alleging improper conduct by a Pennsylvania judge. Formal charges were filed in .006% (5) of those cases. That is consistent with the five years from 2012 to 2016 when charges were filed in .007% (28) of the 3,886 complaints filed. So in Pennsylvania charges are filed against a judge in about 1 out of every 140 complaints.
Click here to read the Judicial Conduct Board’s Press Release and the JCB’s complaint against Michael Muth.
Click here to see Muth’s biography on the East Stroudsburg University website.
Click here to see the Monroe County, PA Magisterial District Judge webpage.