Commission votes to remove Harlan Co. Circuit Judge

By: Kendall Downing Email
By: Kendall Downing Email

Weeks ago Harlan County Circuit Judge Russell Alred went on trial before the Judicial Conduct Commission, facing a number of ethics charges. The commission's ruling came down on Monday.

The Judicial Conduct Commission found Judge Alred guilty on nine counts. They voted unanimously to remove him from office.

The more than 40 page-long document is the culmination of three days of testimony at the end of August.

In the document the commission said, "The actions of the Respondent show a blatant and persistent failure to uphold the impartiality and integrity of the judiciary."

"I was surprised that they recommended removal because this is the first time I've ever been to the Judicial Conduct Commission," said Alred.

Mountain News spoke with Judge Alred Monday afternoon by phone. He was on the way home from filing his appeal in Frankfort.

"Just within a number of hours of the order being filed at the Supreme Court, I had filed a notice of appeal," said Alred.

In the final order the commission discusses the motives behind the special Grand Jury order Judge Alred entered to investigate drug trafficking out of Judge-Executive Joe Grieshop's office.

The commission said, "The order for the special Grand Jury could have been sealed or could have been drafted in such a way that the County Judge-Executive was not named."

"The Judge-Executive testified he wanted the charges dismissed on me, told them I had done the right thing and told them that numerous times," said Alred.

Alred said he believes the commission's investigator Gene Weaver was dishonest in his investigation tactics and had a personal relationship with the commission's chair that influenced the outcome of the hearing.

Both sides will file briefs, and Judge Alred said he is moving for oral arguments to be heard before the state's Supreme Court.

As for cases in Harlan Circuit Court, Judge Roderick Messer who is a senior status judge has been filling in on the bench for a while.

It could rotate between a number of senior status judges until Judge Alred's appeal is settled.

Attorneys for the commission told Mountain News the punishment fits the crime.

A judge has not been removed from the bench in Kentucky in eleven years.

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