Judicial Commission Finds 41 Violations Against Ovalles, Calls For His Removal

Aug 9, 2017

The Rhode Island Commission on Judicial Tenure and Discipline is calling for the removal of District Court Judge Rafael Ovalles after finding that he committed 41 violations of judicial canons.

"The integrity of the Rhode  Island judicial system is paramount," the commission writes in a blistering 244-page report. "Criminal defendants, victims, witnesses, civil litigants, the state, and attorneys should not be left to question whether they receive fair treatment at the hands of a judicial  officer. The public has been  witness to Judge Ovalles’s uneven temperament, his lack of competence, and his vindictiveness. His conduct thus far has undermined public  confidence  in and perception of the judiciary."

In a statement, Angel Taveras, Ovalles' nephew and a member of his defense team, said, “We strongly disagree with the Commission's process and recommendation in this matter and will pursue all legal remedies available to Judge Ovalles."

"We would point out that Judge Ovalles was vindicated on the most salacious allegation in the Commission's Complaint. The Commission conceded that Judge Ovalles never removed his pants in chambers and ‘was not seen by staff with his pants removed.’ (Findings of Fact, Workplace Conduct, No. 16; p. 123)  The allegation in the Commission's Complaint regarding Judge Ovalles' ‘propensity to remove his pants’ in chambers was shown to be patently false.” Ovalles was nominated as a judge by former Governor Don Carcieri in 2005. Ten years later, in 2015, he was relieved as a judge after becoming the subject of a series of complaints.

Among other things, Ovalles was accused of being rude and inappropriate with female court workers.

The decision on whether to remove Ovalles is up to the Rhode Island Supreme Court.