On Monday, November 13, 2023, the Presiding Disciplinary Judge of the Supreme Court of Colorado approved a stipulation to discipline, imposing a public censure against Attorney John E. Scipione, a former district court judge in Arapahoe County, Colorado. The stipulation was reached in response to Scipione’s violation of the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC) during his time on the bench.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of John E. Scipione,” with case no. 23PDJ050.

The charges cited Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct 3.5(b) and 8.4(i) which states:

A lawyer must not communicate ex parte with a judge by means prohibited by law unless authorized to do so by law or court order or unless a judge initiates the communication and the lawyer reasonably believes that the subject matter of the communication is within the scope of the judge’s authority under a rule of judicial conduct.

A lawyer must not engage in conduct, in connection with the lawyer’s professional activities, that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know constitutes sexual harassment.

The Rules of Professional Conduct can be found here.

According to the stipulation, Scipione made inappropriate comments to a male law clerk interning in his chambers. Scipion referred to his legal assistant using a derogatory gendered term. Scipione also made comments that made the law clerk feel uncomfortable commenting on the law clerk’s appearance and physique, expressed jealousy over the law clerk’s relationship with another staff member, and discussed details of his non-monogamous lifestyle and a “ranch” catering to that lifestyle. Scipione also asked the law clerk to assist him using the dating application Tinder.

Additionally, Scipione sent an ex parte email to the judge overseeing his father’s estate probate case using his judicial email account. He requested the judge expedite orders in the case, though later filed a motion for the same relief.

Through this conduct, Scipione was found to have violated Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct regarding ex parte communications and harassment in connection with professional activities. Scipione agreed to a public censure for his actions. He had resigned from the bench by that time in the face of the disciplinary proceedings.

The Disposition states:

“The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties’ stipulation to discipline and publicly censured John E. Scipione (attorney registration number 25527). The public censure, which takes into account significant mitigating factors, took effect on November 13, 2023.”

John Scipione served as a judge for the Colorado 18th Judicial District. He took office on September 29, 2018. He held this position until retiring from the Colorado 18th Judicial District in January 2023. According to avvo.com,  acquired his law license in Colorado in 1995. 

A copy of the original filing can be found here.