A former Louisville judge was publicly reprimanded Monday for what the state's Judicial Conduct Commission concluded was "reprehensible" behavior, including threatening to strangle a lawyer and refusing to allow a defendant to argue his civil case.
The commission unanimously found Martin McDonald guilty of two counts of misconduct in office for his handling of the death penalty appeal of Roger Dale Epperson, 63, and a civil case involving a man defending himself.
Commission Chair Stephen Wolnitzek wrote in the reprimand that because McDonald has retired and isn't hearing cases, the reprimand is the strongest available penalty.
"Were Judge McDonald still a member of the Kentucky Judiciary, a much more severe sanction, perhaps including removal from the bench, would have been warranted and would have been ordered," Wolnitzek wrote in a 12-page order.
The commission suspended McDonald in June, several months after his behavior and comments in Epperson's case came to light. McDonald was a senior judge at the time. Senior judges are retired jurists who take on appointments to hear cases in special circumstances. He retired fully a short time after the suspension.
Earlier coverage of the Kentucky judicial update begins at the link.