The Louisville Courier-Journal reports, "Judge threatens to strangle lawyer, gets suspended," by Andrew Wolfson.
The Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission voted Tuesday to temporarily suspend Senior Judge Martin McDonald, despite his claims he has completed his service and will never sit on the bench again.
The commission removed McDonald with pay pending the resolution of charges that he violated the canons of ethics in two cases, including one in which he threatened to strangle an assistant public advocate and disparaged the attorney’s case.
In the first case, it said he refused to let a litigant who was representing himself last August present any argument because he was not a lawyer.
In the second, the commission said in the death penalty case of Roger Dale Epperson last September, McDonald in an “intemperate voice” told assistant public advocate David Barron that “if you ever call me on my cellphone again, I’ll strangle you” and get “your law licensed yanked.”
The charge says McDonald further called motions for new trials based on ineffective counsel “distasteful” and said Barron’s argument “bordered on the ridiculous.”
A former deputy sheriff known for occasional controversies on the bench, McDonald, 55, was removed from two cases last year by Kentucky Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr.
"Judge who angrily lectured appellate counsel in death-penalty case is suspended with pay," is ABA Journal coverage by Martha Neil.
McDonald had argued, through his counsel, Timothy Denison, that the state Judicial Conduct Commission lacked jurisdiction because he has completed his 600-day assignment as a senior judge and does not plan to serve again. However, the commission voted Tuesday to suspend McDonald because it didn't have a record that he had completed paperwork concerning his judicial service in May, the Courier-Journal reports.
“The commission felt the allegations were serious enough that he should be suspended, if in fact he had any more days to serve,” chairman Steve Wolnitzek told the newspaper. “If he has completed his service, obviously the order of suspension would be moot. If he’s done, he’s done.”
Denison says his client plans to appeal on principle and to prevent further damage to his reputation.
Earlier coverage of the Kentucky judicial matter begins at the link.