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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Former Bath County Attorney, Donald "champ" Maze, Treated Like A "Chump" By Kentucky Supreme Court And Disbarred For Vote Buying.

Former county attorney disbarred over vote buying

A former county attorney from northeast Kentucky was disbarred Thursday for paying voters to cast ballots for him in a 2006 election and then lying about it to a grand jury.
The Kentucky Supreme Court found that one-time Bath County Attorney Donald A. "Champ" Maze's conduct proved so egregious, he should be permanently banned from practicing law, even though he had no prior disciplinary record.


Chief Justice John D. Minton, writing for the court's majority, said Maze abused a position of power and trust by using his office to corrupt both the voting process and the judicial system.
"Any layperson should know better, and so much more should a lawyer with over 20 years of experience, 12 of which included prosecuting criminals as the County Attorney," Minton wrote.
The punishment goes beyond the five-year suspension recommended by the Kentucky Bar Association's Board of Governors. Justice Will T. Scott, in a rare dissent in an attorney discipline case, said the five-year ban would have been a just punishment.
Scott noted that Maze hasn't practiced law in five years and another suspension of that length would keep him out of the legal business for a decade. That's more than enough time to protect the public should Maze fail to "adequately redeem his character" before applying for readmission to the bar, Scott wrote.
"I simply do not think that the only way to provide these safeguards, at this time, is to forever strip him of his law license," he wrote.

Maze served 21 months in federal prison. He pleaded guilty on the eve of trial in 2007 to paying five voters to cast ballots for him as he sought to return to the county attorney's job in 2006. Prior to that, Maze served three terms as Bath County Attorney before losing re-election in 2002.
Since being released from prison in January 2009, Maze has worked at a job selling cars and has not sought reinstatement to practice law.

Maze admitted to paying five voters during the election, but said he did so only after other candidates continued to pay voters after he complained about it to Kentucky State Police. He later denied paying voters in front of a federal grand jury.
After being indicted, Maze pulled together lists of prospective jurors in his case, then a list of the 14 people empaneled to hear his case. The Bar Association's Governors concluded that the list was compiled with the intent of intimidating jurors or tampering with the panel. Maze later denied knowing the lists would be put to use to intimidate jurors, even though one juror's employer received a call from a friend of Maze's. Minton found Maze's denial unconvincing.

"The court is also especially troubled by the fact that Maze never fully accepts sole responsibility for his actions and never expressed legitimate remorse for his conduct," Minton wrote.
Scott, joined by Justice Michelle Keller, said others in similar situations have rehabilitated themselves, including former U.S. Rep. Caroll Hubbard, who served two years in federal prison for campaign-finance violations, but was later readmitted to practice law.
"However, it is my contention that (Maze) deserves the same chance," Scott wrote. "Hope is an eternal beacon."

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