Controversial Louisville judge reprimanded for "inappropriate co - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Controversial Louisville judge reprimanded for "inappropriate comments"

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LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) -- A controversial Jefferson County judge has been publicly reprimanded for making "inappropriate comments from the bench," bringing her impartiality into question.

The Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission this week issued the reprimand to Jefferson District Court Judge Sandra McLaughlin for comments that were "unnecessary, undignified and inconsistent with the presumption of innocence," according to the Dec. 29 order.

Click HERE to read the official reprimand.

McLaughlin has been under fire all year for her actions on the bench. In August, a national blog called her "possibly the worst judge alive" after a story by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting pointed out that McLaughlin was not only the lowest-rated judge in the county, but had repeatedly belittled people who came before her and refused to provide public defenders for some indigent defendants.

Still, McLaughlin won re-election easily in November, beating challenger Matthew Eckert 56 percent to 44 percent.

The 2-page Judicial Conduct Commission order did not specify what the comments were, but said McLaughlin acknowledged they were inappropriate and violated the Kentucky Code of Judicial Conduct rules requiring a judge to be "dignified and courteous to litigants."

The order noted that McLaughlin fully cooperated in the investigation and has had no prior infractions.

Attorney Brian Butler, who represented McLaughlin in front of the commission, said the judge is "glad this is behind her. It's been a hard process. She accepted responsibility for making a few inappropriate comments and she looks forward to continuing to serve the people of Jefferson County."

Butler would not specify what comments McLaughlin was reprimanded for, but said there were about a half-dozen investigated.

The Kentucky Center story noted that McLaughlin accused a defendant of being "up here selling dope to little children" even though he was not accused of selling drugs to anyone; told one defendant he already had one strike against him for wearing a President Obama t-shirt; denied defendants the right to a public defender and was the lowest rated and most criticized judge in Louisville.

In the story, McLaughlin sort of defended her comments saying it's not uncommon for judges to make extrajudicial comments in court and noting that "it gets frustrating after 200 cases a day."  

"Everyone in my court is treated fairly and respectfully," she told the Kentucky Center.

McLaughlin did not immediately return a phone call left through Butler.  

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