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Monday, July 23, 2012

Kentucky Supreme Court Upholds Removal Of Harlan Circuit Judge, Russell D. Alred.

Kentucky Supreme Court upholds removal of Harlan judge
By Jack Brammer

FRANKFORT — The Kentucky Supreme Court has upheld a decision by the Judicial Conduct Commission to remove Harlan Circuit Judge Russell D. Alred from office for misconduct.

In a 62-page opinion Monday written by Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr., the state's highest court agreed with the commission's finding of eight of nine counts of misconduct by Alred.

"From our review of the record, it is clear that Judge Alred engaged in a pattern of misconduct, displaying disregard for the law and the Kentucky Code of Judicial Conduct," said the opinion. "He continually refuses to accept responsibility for his actions or acknowledge his wrongdoing."

An attorney for Alred, Marcus Carey of Erlanger, argued before the Supreme Court in April that Alred was treated unfairly and should be allowed to keep his job.

The Judicial Conduct Commission ordered Alred removed last September.

Alred agreed not to preside over cases after the commission ruling last year, but he still receives his salary.

The high court's ruling does not take effect immediately. Alred can ask the court for a rehearing.

Alred was the fourth judge since 1984 to be removed from office by the commission.

The commission had offered a deal in which Alred would receive a 90-day suspension if he would admit ethics breaches, but he refused.

The panel judged Alred guilty of numerous ethics violations, including having improper involvement in cases, failing to dispose of cases fairly, using his office to advance personal interests and misrepresenting his actions.

In the Supreme Court ruling, Justices Mary Noble and Wil Schroder concurred with Minton's opinion. Justice Daniel J. Venters concurred in a separate opinion, which Justice Lisabeth Hughes Abramson joined.

Justice Bill Cunningham concurred in part and dissented in part in a separate opinion, which Justice Will T. Scott joined.

In his opinion, Cunningham wrote, "Judge Alred has not killed or physically injured anyone. He has not molested his secretary. He has not stolen a dime.

"In fact, he hasn't even been charged with a crime of any kind — misdemeanor or felony. None of his friends or family members has gotten rich or gone free because of his missteps. He has not enriched himself financially nor engaged in any kind of debauchery.

"His judicial misconduct has been primarily on behalf of children and against criminals. In all his excessive exuberance, he has failed to grasp his professional responsibility. He simply has not learned how to conduct himself as a judge."

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