Skip to Content

Kentucky Family Law Judge Removed From the Bench After Allegations of a Threesome in Court.

BY IN General

What does it take to remove a judge from your case or from the bench?

Family Court judge Dawn Gentry was suspended with pay after a hearing during which nine allegations were leveled against the judge. The Judge, who was appointed in 2016, allegedly had a sexual relationship with a local pastor, and she had a sexual relationship at work with her secretary.  The Judge made sexual advances to a local attorney who refused, after which the judge allegedly retaliated against that attorney and others.  The judge, her male lover, and a third court employee are alleged to have engaged in sexual activity in the courthouse.

The laundry list of misconduct continues and includes inappropriate Snapchats (which were seen by the commission. We previously wrote a blog about the dangers of Snapchat), showing favoritism to attorneys who contributed financially to her 2018 campaign and retaliating against those attorneys who did not volunteer or contribute towards her campaign.  The allegations seem to be made for a movie, but the reality of this situation is that many parents had their custody cases decided by this judge while she favored certain guardian-ad-litems and attorneys and retaliated against others.  Those cases have been decided, maybe poorly so, and such mistakes cannot easily be undone. 

A situation such as this really erodes people’s trust in the judiciary.  Realistically after most child custody trials, one parent walks away satisfied, and often the other parent feels that the judge was grossly unfair, wasn’t listening to the evidence and made a mistake.  Aggrieved parents sometimes raise concerns and questions of misconduct following a bad result.  This begs the question:  when will a judge be removed from a case or from the bench?

A judge may recuse himself or herself from a case when the judge finds there is a conflict of interest.  The judge may realize the conflict and recuse himself or herself or a party may file a motion to point out the conflict.  For example, if the judge is familiar with one of the litigants (i.e., a friend, family member or former firm member), the judge should be recused. 

A judge must comply with the Code of Professional Conduct and Rules of Professional Responsibility. If those rules are violated, the Judicial Tenure Commission will investigate the claim of judicial misconduct.  Litigants, attorneys, and other judges may file a complaint with the commission.  If the commission finds that misconduct occurred, the case will be referred to the Michigan Supreme Court where a hearing will be conducted, and if the commission’s case is supported, the judge will be removed from the bench. 

Parties often claim that the assigned judge showed a bias favoring the opposing party in their case.  Statistics show that of the six judges removed from the Michigan bench during the past ten years, none of them were removed for showing favoritism in one particular case.

If a judge fails to follow Michigan law and incorrectly favors one party over the other, the most effective and correct procedure would be to visit an appellate attorney to determine if the unfavorable decision can be appealed.  Trial judges make mistakes sometimes, and the American judicial system allows for such decisions to be reviewed and reversed by an appellate court.    Our firm has successfully prepared and argued many appeals, and our family law attorneys can review your trial court proceedings for a possible appeal.

Before filing a claim of judicial misconduct, you may consider talking to your trial attorney, whether they advise such an action. Logically, a claim of judicial misconduct is very offensive to the judge and making a baseless claim will not assist you in your litigation.

History shows that judicial misconduct happens.  Judicial misconduct should be investigated, and violating judges are a disgrace to the legal profession and our judicial system and should be removed.  Many feelings of a biased judge can be avoided by hiring a competent family law attorney who knows and follows the Rules of Evidence and Court Rules so that the judge is able to admit, review and consider your evidence.  If you are facing a hearing or trial or believe your judgment or final order should be appealed, call the family law team at Kraayeveld Law at 616-285-0808 to schedule your free consultation.