Bench & Bar

MAR 2018

The Bench & Bar magazine is published to provide members of the KBA with information that will increase their knowledge of the law, improve the practice of law, and assist in improving the quality of legal services for the citizenry.

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| MARCH/APRIL 2018 54 COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY JUDICIAL CONDUCT COMMISSION IN RE THE MATTER OF HON. W. MITCHELL NANCE, FAMILY COURT JUDGE 43 rd JUDICIAL CIRCUIT FINDINGS OF FACT, CONCLUSIONS OF LAW AND FINAL ORDER I STATEMENT OF CHARGES e Judicial Conduct Commission of the Commonwealth of Kentucky was created for the purpose of, and is vested with the jurisdiction to, initiate, hear and decide charges of official miscon- duct by any judge of the Court of Justice or lawyer while a candidate for judicial office, and upon a finding of such official misconduct, to impose sanctions pursuant to SCR 4.020. In furtherance of this authority and purpose, the Commission filed charges of judicial misconduct against Judge W. Mitchell Nance, Family Court Judge, 43 rd Judicial Circuit on September 11 th , 2017. (Notice of Formal Proceedings and Charges dated September 11 th , 2017 are attached hereto and incorporated herein by reference). II PROCEEDINGS 1. e Respondent, W. Mitchell Nance is the Family Court Judge for the 43 rd Judicial Circuit consisting of Barren and Metcalfe Counties, Kentucky. 2. e Commission authorized an investigation into the allegations after receipt of a media report and multi- ple Complaints. 3. e Respondent was informed of the investigation and appeared with Counsel, Hon. Bryan H. Beau- man and Scott L. Miller, on June 30 th , 2017. e Respondent was provided the factual information in the custody of the Commission for examination, pursuant to SCR 4.170(4) and was afforded an op- portunity to present any other information bearing on the investigation. e Respondent did not provide additional information bearing on the Commission's investigation. 4. Notice of Formal Proceedings and Charges were filed against the Respondent on September 11 th , 2017 un- der Supreme Court Rule 4.180. 5. An Answer to the Notice of Formal Proceedings and Charges was filed by the Respondent by his Counsel on October 25 th , 2017. 6. A Notice of Time and Place for Hearing was sent to the Respondent on October 30 th , 2017, setting the Hearing for December 15 th , 2017 at 2:00pm in court room E on the third floor of the Fayette County Cir- cuit Courthouse 120 N. Limestone Street Lexington, KY 41507. 7. On December 15 th , 2017 neither the Respondent or his Counsel appeared for the hearing as scheduled and offered no evidence in defense of said charges. 8. Counsel for the Commission, Hon. Jeffrey Mando, presented evidence in support of the charges. 9. e (five) voting members of the Commission in this case are as follows: Hon. Stephen D. Wolnitzek, Judge Janet Stumbo, Judge Eddy Coleman, Judge David Bowles, and Michael Noftsger. Citizen member Joe Adams was recovering from a medical condition and was unable to participate. In attendance during the hearing was alternate member Judge Mitchell Per- ry. e alternate member did not participate in the Commission vote in this matter. 10. At the conclusion of the presentation of evidence it was announced that the Hearing was concluded and appropriate Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and a Final Order would be entered in due course. III FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW e Judicial Conduct Commission concludes that the following Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law have been established by clear and convincing evidence. CHARGE On April 27 th , 2017 the Respondent issued General Order 17-01 declaring that "under no circumstance" would the adoption of a child by a homosexual be in the child's best interest. Acknowledging that this declaration constitutes a "personal bias or prejudice" against homosexuals seeking to adopt children, Judge Nance ordered that any attorney filing a motion for adoption on behalf of a homosexual party notify court staff so that he could recuse and disqualify himself from any such proceeding. e General Order effectively created a Local Rule that was implemented without the approval of the Chief Justice of the Ken- tucky Supreme Court as required under SCR 1.040(3)(a) and its content is contrary to prevailing law. As a result, the Respondent was charged with violating SCR 4.020(1)(b)(i) and that his actions constitute misconduct in office. In addition, the Respondent was charged with violation of SCR 4.300 and the relevant portions of the following Canons of the Code of Judicial Conduct: Canon 1 which requires Judges to maintain high standards of conduct and uphold the integrity and independence of the Judiciary. Canon 2A which requires Judges to respect and comply with BAR NEWS See Page 22 for Convention Details THE WAIT IS OVER!

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