KY Judge reprimanded after violating Code of Judicial Conduct in case

KY Judge reprimanded after violating Code of Judicial Conduct in case
A federal judge has thrown out a legal settlement that would restrict how Kentucky uses religious-based foster homes for children. (Source: Raycom Media)

KENTUCKY (KFVS) - A Kentucky Judge reported potential violations of the Kentucky Code of Judicial Conduct about himself to the Commission.

According to court documents, Charles L. Cunningham is a Circuit Court Judge for the state's 30th Judicial Circuit consisting of Jefferson County.

Judge Cunningham is being publicly reprimanded for the violations and waived formal proceedings.

Cunningham self-reported the potential violations following the Kentucky Court of Appeals' decision in the case of Commonwealth v. Cambron. 

Documents state that the Court of Appeals determined that Judge Cunningham violated Canon 3B(7) of the Kentucky Code of Judicial Conduct on at least 29 occasions.

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The Commission found that Judge Cunningham's conduct violated SCR 4.020(1)(b)(i) by engaging in misconduct in office. Commission documents also note that Judge Cunningham violated SCR 4.300 and the relevant portions of the following Canons of the Code of Judicial Conduct:

  • Canon 1 which requires judges to maintain high standards of conduct and uphold the integrity and independence of the Judiciary
  • Canon 2A which requires judges to respect and comply with the law and act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.
  • Canon 3B(7) which prohibits judges from initiating or considering ex parte communications with parties, except in designated circumstances that do not deal with substantive matters or issues on the merits.

The Court found that Judge Cunningham entered ex parte orders to get records of Cambron's to his public defender in the underlying case without notifying the Commonwealth according to official documents.

The documents also state that Judge Cunningham spoke with the defendant's public defender multiple times without the Commonwealth's knowledge.

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