Chief Justice won't remove Judge Olu Stevens, refers case to Judicial Conduct Commission

Published: Dec. 18, 2015 at 8:06 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 25, 2015 at 8:11 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The Kentucky Chief Justice denied a request from Jefferson County's top prosecutor to have a judge removed from all criminal cases after a jury selection dispute and has instead referred the investigation to the Judicial Conduct Commission.

While Chief Justice John Minton had previously removed Judge Olu Stevens from two specific cases, he ruled that a broad request to remove the judge from all cases would effectively mean removing Stevens from office, which he said is a power granted only to the Judicial Conduct Commission.

Stevens and Tom Wine, the Commonwealth's Attorney for Jefferson County, had been ordered to mediation after dispute over the jury selection process in which the judge accused Wine of wanting to impanel all-white juries.

[PREVIOUS STORY: Wine says deal is off, files second motion to have Stevens removed]

As part of the mediation agreement, Minton said, both sides agreed not to post about the case on social media. Wine argued that posts on a Facebook page supporting Judge Stevens violated that agreement, and Minton agreed, writing, "While the mediation initially appeared to be successful, it is now clear to the Chief Justice that it failed to achieve its intended goals. In the minutes, hours and days since the mediation occurred, Judge Stevens has repeatedly demonstrated that he does not intend to comply with the letter or spirit of the agreement."

Minton said that Stevens' Facebook posts and public comments - even when they did not directly reference Wine - give "a clear indication that he intends to continue violating the Code of Judicial Conduct." Minton alleged that Stevens has failed in his duty to to promote public confidence in the judicial system.

"Rather than provide leadership on an important issue worthy of wide discussion, deliberation, and action, Judge Stevens has detracted from the conversation by choosing instead to malign the Commonwealth's Attorney and mischaracterize his motives…," Minton wrote.

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