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York County Magisterial District Judge accused of inappropriate actions by state Judicial Conduct Board

Judge John H. Fishel violated the Rules Governing Standards of Conduct and the PA Constitution by making lewd comments and behaving inappropriately, the Board said
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YORK COUNTY, Pa. — The State Judicial Conduct Board accused a York County Magisterial District Judge of making sexual comments and engaging in inappropriate actions in several instances dating back to 2018, according to charges filed Monday.

The board details 10 such instances in the charges against Magisterial District Judge John H. Fishel, who it accused of violating the Rules Governing Standards of Conduct of Magisterial District Judges and the state Constitution.

Fishel, who has held his position since 2009, "permitted his court staff to participate in inappropriate communication," dating back at least to sometime after October 8, 2018, the charges say.

Among several instances cited in the filings against him, Fishel is accused of discussing anal sex with court staff and others, talking about his preference for a "big ass" with staff, and telling one staff member that he had rubbed his penis on the brim of a coffee mug "as a practical joke."

He also allegedly sat on the lap of a court staff member sometime in 2018, and caused "distress to a staff member who did not want to be touched by behaving as though he was going to touch her" sometime between 2014 and October 2019, the charges state.

The board charged Fishel with violating four counts of canon, which dictates judges should act in a way that promotes confidence in the judiciary and requires judges to act patient, dignified, and courteous in front of court staff.

Fishel is also charged with four counts of violating Article V subsection 17 (b) of the state Constitution, which states that judges "shall not engage in any activity prohibited by law and shall not violate any canon of legal or judicial ethics prescribed by the Supreme Court."

Additionally, he is charged with four counts of violating Article V., subsection 17(b) of the state Constitution.

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All four counts were argued to be justified by the board, citing language in the constitution that states judges "shall not engage in any activity prohibited by law and shall not violate any canon of legal or judicial ethics prescribed by the Supreme Court."

Fishel was charged after the York County District Court Administrator's Office conducted an investigation in response to a Non-Discrimination and Equal Employment Opportunity Complaint in October 2019, the documents say.

FIshel self-reported most, if not all, of the allegations included in the complaint about a month after being notified of the investigation, according to the charges.

The Judicial Conduct Board will present the case before the Court of Judicial Discipline at a hearing. The date of that hearing has yet to be determined.