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Louisville judge disqualified from Breonna Taylor protester cases

The court cited Judge Josephine Buckner's potential bias based on her previous employment and social media posts made in 2020 and 2021.
Credit: Brian Jackson - stock.adobe.com
Judge gavel, scales of justice and law books in court

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky’s Supreme Court has disqualified a Louisville judge from presiding over several cases regarding people who were arrested in the summer of 2020 during a protest regarding Breonna Taylor's death.

The court cited Judge Josephine Buckner's potential bias based on her previous employment and social media posts.

Breonna Taylor was shot by three former Louisville Metro Police officers during a botched raid in March 2020. Protests erupted across the city in the weeks that followed demanding justice for Taylor’s death.

During one of those protests, several protestors blocked the Clark Memorial Bridge in downtown Louisville. They were all charged with misdemeanors.

RELATED: Everything that led to Louisville's Breonna Taylor protests

According to the motion for removal, the prosecution said Buckner should be disqualified from presiding over the protestors' cases because she worked for Louisville Attorney Sam Aguiar’s law firm while he represented Taylor’s family.

Other members at the law firm also represented other protestors who had been arrested that summer, the Commonwealth said.

In response to the prosecution's affidavit, Buckner confirmed that she did work for Aguiar before her appointment to the bench. However, she says her previous employment with the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office, which defended the civil action regarding Taylor’s death, “is as relevant to the present case as her previous employment with the Aguiar firm.”

Read the court's full motion for removal:

The Commonwealth further argued in their motion that Buckner shared three Facebook posts relating to Taylor’s death between August 2020 and June 2021. Three of the posts were made by Aguiar and Lonita Baker, who also represented Taylor’s family.

Buckner argued that the cited posts don’t paint an accurate picture of her social media presence over the past decade.

Chief Justice John Minton  Jr. ultimately agreed with the Commonwealth’s case and approved their motion to remove Buckner from the cases finding it “reasonable to conclude that Judge Buckner’s impartiality could be questioned.”

Minton Jr. added that he found Buckner’s response to the Commonwealth’s claims to be “indicative of bias against the prosecution in this case.”

Chief Regional District Judge Annette Karem will now reassign the protestors’ cases to another division of Jefferson District Court for further proceedings.

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