The Kentucky Judicial Ethics Commission has ruled that Daviess County Family Court Judge Julie Gordon will be removed from her position, effective 10 days from today. Gordon has 10 days to appeal the decision. The Commission’s decision was released Friday in a 25-page document of factual findings, legal findings and final order.
The whole judgment can be found here. Gordon’s attorney, R. Kent Westberry, told the Owensboro Times via email that “we are disappointed with the decision and disagree with it. We are reviewing it carefully now and will decide how to proceed after this review.
In the 25-page document, the Commission wrote that “After proper notice and hearing, and based on the totality of the circumstances and evidence presented at the hearing and the wide range of repeated and systemic misconduct by ( Gordon) over a substantial period of time, the Commission by unanimous vote (6-0) ordered that Judge Gordon be removed from office.
The Commission noted that “the severity of the sentence imposed is dictated significantly by his violations of the canons of Count I, and this alone justifies removal from office, even without the other significant faults found by Counts II to V” .
In its findings of fact, findings of law and final order, the Commission wrote, in part, “Based on the clear and compelling evidence presented at the hearing, individually, the allegations of misconduct against Judge Gordon are of grave concern. and show many serious transgressions. , and a pattern of inappropriate conduct and violations of the rules of the Kentucky Code of Judicial Conduct. Collectively, the allegations of misconduct against Judge Gordon established during the hearing result in tragic but necessary disciplinary action against her, as set out below.
As written in the document, a summary of the charges addressed at the hearing includes:
• Count I: You took numerous steps to use your influence as a family court judge to obstruct justice and affect the outcome of the criminal proceedings of your son, Dalton Gordon.
• Count II: You abused your power and exceeded the authority of your position and committed acts calling into question your impartiality.
• Count III: You mismanaged your courtroom and deviated from acceptable standards of judicial conduct.
• Count IV: During the Judicial Conduct Commission’s investigation into your practices as a family court judge, you were not candid and misrepresented material facts before the Judicial Conduct Commission and Judicial Ethics Committee.
• Count V: You failed to recognize and avoid conflicts of interest that called into question your impartiality.
• Count VI: You ignored and violated the law which challenged your integrity and created the appearance of impropriety.
According to the Commission’s document, “In summary, the misconduct alleged against Judge Gordon caused her to repeatedly act well outside the constitutional role of judge, creating conflict and bias by acting as a lawyer , counsel and counsel for her son in his criminal cases, then pressuring and urging both the prosecutor and the judge presiding over those cases to take action as she ordered Judge Gordon did not disclose the conflicts she created and did not recuse cases in which she clearly had a conflict due to her efforts.She intimidated and threatened Cabinet employees when they did not accept her way of conducting the business of the JDNA or when they expressed objections to its actions and decisions, and it then retaliated against them when the Cabinet and its employees defended themselves and pushed back the normal practice of the movement in its court. has not been open and honest with the Commission. Judge Gordon admitted much of her misconduct in her multiple written letters and formal response to the Commission. Much of his misconduct was established at the hearing.
In the “Findings of Fact and Findings of Law” section of the document, the Commission specifically detailed its findings for each of the six counts filed against Gordon. These details can be found starting on page 10 of the document.
According to the document, Gordon was found guilty by the Commission of violating the Kentucky Code of Judicial Conduct and of misconduct on 5 of the 6 counts against her. The Commission found that Gordon’s conduct violated numerous rules of judicial canon, including the following:
• Failure to comply with the law (Canon 1, Rule 1.1).
• Fail to act at any time in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity and impartiality of the judiciary, and avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety (Canon 1, Rule 1.2 ), and not abuse the prestige of judicial office to serve the personal interests of the judge or others (Canon 1, Rule 1.3).
• Not to make the judicial function prevail over all the personal and extrajudicial activities of a judge (Canon 2, Rule 2.1).
• Failing to perform the duties of his judicial office fairly and impartially (Canon 2, Rule 2.2) and without bias or prejudice (Canon 2, Rule 2.3(A) and (B)).
• Allowing social, political, financial or other interests or relationships to influence his conduct or judicial judgment (Canon 2, Rule 2.4(B)). Failing to be patient, dignified, and courteous to those with whom the judge deals in an official capacity, and permitting similar conduct of others under his direction and control (Canon 2, Rule 2.8 (B)).
• Not disqualify himself in a proceeding where his impartiality could reasonably be questioned (Canon 2, Rule 2.11(A)).
• Not require its staff to act in a manner consistent with the judge’s obligations under the Judicial Code of Ethics (Canon 2, Rule 2.12(A)).
• Not cooperating and being frank and honest with judicial disciplinary bodies (Canon 2, Rule 2.16(A)).
• Retaliation against a person known or suspected of aiding or cooperating with a judge’s investigation (Canon 2, Rule 2.16(B)).
• Engage in activities that would appear to a reasonable person to undermine the independence, integrity or impartiality of the judge. (Canon 3, Rule 3.1(C)).
• Engage in conduct that would appear coercive to a reasonable person (Canon 3, Rule 3.1(D)).
Part of the order reads: “Judge Gordon’s conduct violating the canons was not isolated but was a pattern of repeated conduct over a long period of time and throughout his tenure as judge and various manners. His canon-violating conduct was extensive and frequent and provided personal benefits to him and his adult son. The conduct occurred inside and outside the courtroom, and in his official capacity.
He continues: “Without doubt the integrity and respect of the judiciary throughout the Commonwealth has been and is being adversely affected by the misconduct of Justice Gordon, particularly in light of her retaliation against the Cabinet and its employees. In the misconduct, Judge Gordon exploited her judicial position to further her personal desires, a pernicious and nefarious act that can rarely be explained by a sitting judge. Based on the totality of the evidence presented, including the acts admitted by Judge Gordon and the conduct which she cannot deny having committed, and on the basis of a reasonable and reasoned application of the Rules, it is clear that the Judge Gordon is not fit to continue to sit. ”
CONTEXT OF THE PROCEDURE
The Commission filed judicial misconduct charges against Gordon on Oct. 21, 2021, after receiving “a series of misconduct complaints,” according to the document.
Gordon was elected in 2016 to the new family division of Daviess Circuit Court and was sworn in in January 2017. After the series of complaints, the Commission authorized a preliminary inquiry.
According to the document, Gordon responded to the notice in a 27-page letter in July 2021. Following an informal conference with Gordon and his attorney, the Commission concluded that formal proceedings should be initiated.
Gordon was briefed on the proceedings and charges in October 2021. In November, she “denied several of the Canons charges and violations but admitted to some of the operational facts set forth in the charges,” according to the document.
A temporary dismissal hearing was scheduled for December 15, but on December 2 Gordon agreed to a paid voluntary suspension.
The formal proceedings and hearing on the charges began on April 4, 2022 and ended on April 6.
At the end of the hearing and the presentation of evidence, counsel for the parties presented the Board with a “stipulation of the parties”. According to the document, “pursuant to stipulation, portions of Counts I, II, III, IV and the entirety of Count VI were dismissed for lack of sufficient evidence presented at the hearing to meet the clear burden of proof. and convincing”.