LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) -- The Kentucky Supreme Court removed a judge from presiding over more than two dozen criminal cases against people arrested while protesting the 2020 fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor.

In a ruling Tuesday, Chief Justice John Minton found that Jefferson District Court Judge Josephine Buckner's "impartiality could be questioned," in part because she previously worked for an attorney who represented Taylor's family in a wrongful death lawsuit against the city.

Before Buckner was appointed by Gov. Andy Beshear to fill a vacancy on the Jefferson district court bench in August 2021, she worked for attorney Sam Aguiar while he was representing Taylor's family. In September 2020, the city agreed to pay $12 million to Taylor's family and implement numerous reforms in the Louisville Metro Police Department.

The Jefferson County Attorney's office argued Buckner also should be disqualified based on social media posts from her Facebook page about the Taylor case prior to being appointed a judge. For example, Buckner shared a post calling for LMPD officers to be arrested for the March 13, 2020, raid that resulted in Taylor's death.

In her response, Buckner pointed out she also previously worked as a prosecutor and argued the Facebook posts cited by the Jefferson County Attorney's office "do not paint an accurate picture of the totality of her social media presence," according to the ruling.

Minton ruled, however, that "looking at the totality of the circumstances, the Chief Justice finds it is reasonable to conclude that Judge Buckner's impartiality could be questioned."

In fact, Minton found that Buckner's response to allegations that she might be impartial was, in itself, "indicative of bias against the prosecution in this case."

He wrote that Buckner took issue with the argument put forward by the county attorney's office and responded that the "remedy" would be to have the "prosecution apologize for the statements and inferences made."

"The prosecution," Buckner wrote, "has an inability to compartmentalize, separate and scrutinize the facts and circumstances of an issue once the name of Breonna Taylor is invoked, relevant or irrelevant."

Those comments, Minton ruled, indicate prejudice toward prosecutors and are "are impossible to ignore." He ordered Chief Jefferson District Court Judge Annette Karem to reassign the 26 pending misdemeanor cases to another judge.

The arrests stem from a protest on the Clark Memorial Bridge on June 29, 2020. Protesters blocked lanes on the bridge, which connects Louisville to Indiana, and brought traffic to a standstill.

The bridge was closed for several hours and 33 people were arrested. Nineteen cars were towed.

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