Ky. Chief Justice refers request to disqualify Judge Stevens to - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Ky. Chief Justice refers request to disqualify Judge Stevens to Judicial Conduct Commission

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Kentucky's Chief Justice has denied a request to disqualify Judge Olu Stevens from criminal cases, but has referred the request to the Judicial Conduct Commission.

In a decision entered Friday, Chief Justice John Minton said the request to remove Judge Stevens is beyond the scope of his responsibility and, if granted, would essentially amount to removing Stevens from the bench.

The decision follows a second request from Jefferson County Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Wine to disqualify Judge Olu Stevens from all criminal cases. After the first request, Wine and Stevens were ordered by Minton into a private mediation. After the two completed mediation, Wine claimed Stevens broke the agreement that was reached by speaking publicly and posting to social media regarding the agreement.  

"Judge Stevens’s ensuing public discourse appears to flout the directives of the Code of Judicial Conduct, creating a social-media firestorm calculated to aggrandize himself by exploiting the deep-seated and widespread distrust of the criminal-justice system by minority communities," Minton's decision states.

Justice Minton wrote that Stevens’ actions may amount to violations of the Judicial Code of Conduct and must be reviewed by the Judicial Conduct Commission.

"Judge Stevens’s dismissal of the jury panels has never been the subject of our recusal motions," Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Wine said in a statement. Wine clarified that his office only sought "clarification" of Stevens' order to set aside a jury.

Wine said his motion to have Stevens' removed from criminal cases was in regards to his comments on social media. 

"Beyond simple disqualification, this is tantamount to a request for removal from office," Minton wrote. "A disqualification of this magnitude would effectively remove Judge Stevens from his criminal docket for the foreseeable future and render him unable to fulfill the constitutional duties of a circuit judge."

Minton referred all affidavits to the Judicial Conduct Commission for review. 

"While the Commission conducts its review, we will continue to provide representation to victims and fair hearings to those charged with criminal offenses in all of Jefferson Circuit Court," Wine's said. 

You can read the full decision here.

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