Charges filed against Judge Gordon alleging abuse of power, misconduct

November 23, 2021 | 2:27 pm

Updated November 23, 2021 | 2:27 pm

Daviess County Family Court Judge Julia Hawes Gordon | Photo by AP Imagery

Six charges have been filed against Family Court Judge Julie Hawes Gordon alleging abuse of power and misconduct. Gordon has denied the “frivolous allegations.” The Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission has made public a 133-page document, including a response from Gordon to each of the allegations.

The Judicial Conduct Commission is the only entity authorized under the Kentucky Constitution to take disciplinary action against a sitting Kentucky judge. Gordon was elected to serve as a judge for the 6th Judicial Circuit in 2018.

The full document can be viewed here.

Notice of formal proceedings and charges were filed on Oct. 21, 2021.


Six charges have been filed. Each count includes specific alleged details. According to the JCC document, Gordon was notified of the following charges:

  • Count 1 — “During your tenure as Family Court Judge, you took numerous actions to exert your influence as Family Court Judge to obstruct justice and affect the outcome of your son, Dalton’s proceedings” 
  • Count 2 — “During your tenure as Family Court Judge, you abused your power, exceeded the authority of your position, and engaged in acts which brought your impartiality into question”
  • Count 3 — “During your tenure as Family Court Judge, you mismanaged your courtroom and deviated from acceptable standards of judicial conduct”
  • Count 4 — “During the Judicial Conduct Commission’s investigation into your practices as Family Court Judge, you demonstrated a lack of candor and misrepresented material facts to the Judicial Conduct Commission”
  • Count 5 — “During your tenure as Family Court Judge, you failed to recognize and avoid conflicts of interest which brought your impartiality into question”
  • Count 6 — “During your tenure as Family Court Judge, you have ignored and violated the law which brought your integrity into question and created the appearance of impropriety”


Gordon’s counsel is Kent Westberry of Landrum & Shouse LLP in Louisville. 

“Judge Gordon continues to strenuously deny the frivolous allegations brought against her and looks forward to resolution of this matter by the Judicial Conduct Commission,” a statement from Westberry reads.

His statement also includes observations made by several witnesses about Gordon which were attached as exhibits to the judge’s response.

Gordon filed her response on Nov. 22. It includes both a summarized response to the overall investigation, as well as individualized responses to specific allegations within each charge. It also includes more than 20 pieces of evidence she references in her responses.

Her introductory statement submitted through counsel reads: 

“Judge Gordon would like to convey to the Commission that she has read and reflected on every statement taken by Gene Weaver during the JCC investigation. As painful, embarrassing and expensive as this investigation has been, it has caused Judge Gordon to gain many insights that she respectfully submits will make her a better judge. A few of these general observations follow.

First, Judge Gordon has gained a clearer understanding of the reality that she is always a judge – on and off the bench; this is true even when she is acting as the parent of an addicted child with severe mental health issues, and even when she is a crime victim at the hands of that child. Consequently, there are some actions that an ordinary parent or crime victim in a small town might permissibly take – calling the cell phone number of a member of law enforcement, for example – that if taken by a judge, might tend to draw the judiciary into ill repute by suggesting that the judge was benefiting from her position. Judge Gordon never intended to benefit from her position. She was acting as a mother and a victim. However, she now understands that even in the capacity of mother and victim, she must remain vigilant to public perception and the higher ethical duties she willingly embraced when she was sworn in as a judge.

Second, this investigation has made Judge Gordon realize the need to accept the things she cannot change. As passionate as she is about the welfare of abused and neglected children, she is no longer an advocate. She understands that she needs to let the Cabinet workers and others involved in the process do their jobs ; she cannot do it for them.

Third, Judge Gordon has grown as a jurist. When she took the bench as a new judge, she inherited one of the largest dockets in the state. It was overwhelming. Many witnesses, interviewed as part of this investigation, volunteered that the initial problems – long waits, late dockets and the like – now are much improved. That said, Judge Gordon recognizes that there is still room for improvement in the part she plays to administer justice fairly and efficiently. She is committed to building on the improvements she has made. 

Her conclusion reads:

“Judge Gordon is acutely aware of her duty to comport herself at all times in a way that will not undermine the public’s confidence in the judiciary and the rule of law. And she has endeavored to do so, in horrific circumstances. Judge Gordon has used this investigation as an opportunity to scrutinize and reflect upon how she can better uphold the dignity and impartiality of the judiciary, even in the midst of her adopted son’s transgressions. She never attempted to abuse her position, but is now more cognizant, as a result of this investigation, that she is never just a parent, or just a crime victim, but always a judge – on and off the bench.

Complaint Review Process

According to their site, the JCC carefully reviews complaints to determine if they are within its jurisdiction. When the JCC finds sufficient cause, it will conduct a preliminary investigation. If the complaint is not resolved at this stage, the JCC may file formal charges against the judge and hold a fact-finding hearing. 

The JCC’s attorney presents the case at the hearing and the judge has the right to defend against the charges and to be represented by an attorney. The person who filed the complaint may be subpoenaed as a witness if he or she has personal knowledge of wrongdoing.

If no misconduct is found, the complaint will be dismissed. If the JCC finds improper conduct by the judge or a disability that seriously interferes with the judge’s ability to perform judicial duties, the JCC may take any of the following actions:

  • Privately admonish or privately reprimand the judge
  • Publicly reprimand or suspend the judge
  • Remove the judge from office or, in the case of disability, order the judge to retire from the bench

If the JCC files formal charges against a judge, the JCC makes public the charges and any response from the judge. All subsequent pleadings are also made public and any hearing related to the charges is public. Deliberations in reaching any decision regarding the charges are not public.

The complainant is notified of what action is taken unless the disposition is a private admonishment or private reprimand. Final disposition of some complaints takes several months or longer.

November 23, 2021 | 2:27 pm

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