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Sunday, June 16, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Judge sues Judicial Conduct Commission

FRANKFORT, Ky. (CN) — A Harlan County judge claims the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission violated the 14th Amendment by investigating ethics complaints against him that could cost him his job. Neither Judge Russell D. Alred nor the Commission has indicated the nature of the allegations.
"Over the course of several months in 2010 the JCC provided notice to plaintiff of its intention to make a preliminary investigation of complaints against plaintiff to determine whether formal proceedings should be initiated against plaintiff," Alred says in his federal complaint.
Alred claims the Commission violated his constitutional rights by deciding to pursue formal proceedings against him before it conducted a preliminary investigation of the complaints.
He says he appeared before the Commission "as part of the preliminary processes."
The complaint continues: "During the course of these preliminary processes, the JCC acting by and through certain of its members and employees deprived Plaintiff of his fundamental procedural due process rights. ...
"The institutional bias, partiality, and unfairness of the JCC is so explicit, pervasive, and blatant so as to not allow for any possibility of a meaningful preliminary investigation or hearing process, thereby depriving plaintiff of his fundamental right to due process; the rules and procedures under which the JCC operates are unconstitutional to the extent that this deprivation is permitted in the context of those rules."
Alred claims that the Commission's initiating formal proceedings "which will result in allegations against plaintiff becoming public" violated his right to due process.
The Lexington Herald-Leader newspaper reported on Friday that "Controversy flared last year after Alred ordered that a special grand jury hear evidence about alleged drug activity by the county judge-executive, Joe Grieshop, who was facing an election challenge from a cousin of Alred.
"Alred said the family connection played no role in his decision. A grand jury exonerated Grieshop."
Alred seeks "declaratory and injunctive relief arising under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, concerning the constitutionality of various provisions of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Kentucky, as set forth in Section IV of those rules, applicable to the Kentucky Judicial Retirement and Removal Commission, all as incorporated by reference into the Kentucky Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 3.130 of the Kentucky Supreme Court Rules."
The Commission informed Alred on Feb. 18 that it "had concluded that formal proceedings should be initiated; plaintiff's answer [was] due March 18."
Alred sued the Commission on March 17.
He is represented by Scott Webster with Jensen, Cessna, Benge & Webster of London, Ky.

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