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Former Kentucky judge seeks family court seat after removal from office

Judge Julie Hawes Gordon was permanently removed in April for abusing her position for attempting to influence criminal cases involving her adult son.
Credit: AP
Julie Hawes Gordon picks up her daughter, Lucy, while celebrating her Daviess County (Ky) Family Court Judge win with supporters at the Pearl Club on Nov. 8, 2016, in Owensboro, Ky. The Kentucky judge who was removed from office two months ago is running again, and a lawmaker says making that illegal would take a constitutional amendment. The Judicial Conduct Commission voted unanimously in April to permanently remove Daviess Family Judge Julie Hawes Gordon for abusing her position, in particular attempting to influence criminal cases involving her adult son. (Greg Eans/The Messenger-Inquirer via AP)

OWENSBORO, Ky. — A Kentucky judge who was removed from office two months ago is running again, and a lawmaker says making that illegal would take a constitutional amendment.

The Judicial Conduct Commission voted unanimously in April to permanently remove Daviess Family Judge Julie Hawes Gordon for abusing her position, in particular attempting to influence criminal cases involving her adult son. The commission wrote that the impropriety was “over an extended period of time and over her entire tenure as judge.”

However, the commission does not have the power to prevent Gordon from running again, The Messenger-Inquirer reported. Gordon was already on the ballot when she was removed. Although she lost in the primary, she has since filed to run for a second Family Court seat created by legislators earlier this year. Gordon faces candidates Andrew Johnson and Angela Thompson on the November ballot for the seat.

State Rep. Jason Nemes is a Louisville Republican and former director of the Administrative Office of the Courts. He said a blanket prohibition on removed judges seeking reelection would require more than passing a bill.

“Unfortunately ... that would require a constitutional amendment,” Nemes said, which is “more difficult to do.”

A constitutional amendment has to be approved by a supermajority of state legislators and then approved again by voters in a general election.

However, there are other ways a judge could be prevented from running for office, he said. For example, the Judicial Conduct Commission could enter into an agreement with a judge under review, which could include a provision that the judge not run for office again. In addition, the General Assembly has the ability impeach elected officials, including judges, which would bar a judge from running for office. A judge who loses his or her law license would also not be able to seek reelection.

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