Jefferson Circuit judge reprimanded after actions in murder case

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Jefferson Circuit judge was publicly reprimanded Tuesday after a judicial conduct commission determined he engaged in judicial misconduct and identified at least three instances of judicial ethics violations related to a murder case over which he was presiding.

Earlier this year, Jefferson Circuit Judge Charles L. Cunningham "self-reported" that he may have committed the acts during the murder case of Joseph Cambron, who is accused of stabbing a 12-year-old boy to death in Cherokee Park on Sept. 30, 2014.

That came after the Kentucky Court of Appeals blasted Cambron's attorneys and Judge Cunningham, ruling they engaged in secret actions that intentionally excluded prosecutors. The appeals court called these practices "deceptive" and "reprehensible."

On Monday, the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission sided with the appeals court, arguing that Judge Cunningham repeatedly participated in improper ex parte communications, meaning he had contact with defense attorneys without prosecutors' knowledge. 

However, in the reprimand the Commission, "duly considered that Judge Cunningham self-reported the violations and fully cooperated in the matter."

Cunningham offered to recuse himself from the case but both the defense and prosecution declined. 

The public reprimand can be viewed below:

Cambron is accused of stabbing 12-year-old Ray Allen Etheridge in Cherokee Park on Sept. 30, 2014. He has admitted he pulled a knife from his pants and chased after Ray, stabbing him in the back. He has pleaded not guilty and the case is pending. 

Ray was found unresponsive in a wooded area near a campsite where Cambron was living in Cherokee Park. He died of two stab wounds, in his chest and back, according to an autopsy report. 

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