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Friday, June 07, 2013

Kentucky Senior Judge, Martin McDonald, Threatens To Strangle Lawyer, Draws Suspension.

Judge threatens to strangle lawyer, gets suspended

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.”
McDonald’s lawyer, Timothy Denison, said the commission lost jurisdiction over McDonald because his 600 days of service as a senior judge ended Tuesday.

But the commission’s chairman, Steve Wolnitzek, said in an interview that the Administrative Office of the Court was unable to confirm that because McDonald hadn’t turned in paperwork documenting his service in May.
“The commission felt the allegations were serious enough that he should be suspended, if in fact he had any more days to serve,” Wolnitzek said. “If he has completed his service, obviously the order of suspension would be moot. If he’s done, he’s done.”

Denison said in an email that McDonald would contest the suspension “based solely on the principle of the matter and preserving his good reputation, despite the fact that he has completed his time ... and has nothing else to gain.”

The commission said it wanted to relieve McDonald of his duties on the grounds that he suffered a stroke 112 years ago that Denison said affected his ability “to filter what he says.”
“McDonald’s continued performance of his duties under these circumstances may jeopardize the legality of cases he presides over,” George Rabe, the commission’s lawyer, said in a memo supporting the suspension.



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