Breaking: Gordon appealing JCC ruling to remove her from office; seeking re-election

April 26, 2022 | 2:44 pm

Updated April 26, 2022 | 5:33 pm

Julie Gordon | Illustration by Owensboro Times, photo by AP Imagery

Julie Gordon, citing her rights under Marsy’s Law, has filed a motion asking the Kentucky Judicial Commission to reconsider their ruling that Gordon be removed from her role as Daviess County Family Court Judge, and she has begun the appeals process. Regardless of that outcome, Gordon is eligible to run for election and is slated to appear in the May primary. 

Judges Thomas and Joe Castlen on Monday said that if the ruling to remove Gordon is upheld, they are prepared to remain on the Family Court bench through the end of the term.

Statement from Gordon

Gordon issued a statement publicly on Tuesday afternoon. It reads as follows:

Parenting is difficult, even at the best of times. Parenting a child with significant challenges, holding him accountable for his actions, and doing so under the microscope of public scrutiny, can be heartbreaking.

A disgruntled former court worker chose to exploit those times of extreme distress to retaliate against me and my family for the consequences of her misconduct.

We are disappointed and wholeheartedly disagree with the JCC’s opinion. Marsy’s Law affords constitutional rights to crime victims that the JCC unfortunately overlooked. 

My rulings from the bench were not questioned. One Commission member commented, “By all accounts, she is an excellent judge.” 

We are in the appeal process at this time. Regardless of the appeal, I remain eligible for election. As always, I remain dedicated to the families of Daviess County, and I appreciate your continued support.

Motion for reconsideration

The JCC’s decision was issued Friday in a 25-page document titled “Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Final Order.” The entire ruling can be found here

The motion for reconsideration was filed Tuesday by Gordon’s attorney R. Kent Westberry. 

In part, the motion reads, “The Commission’s Order concerned, among other things, conclusions that Judge Gordon had improperly involved herself in her son Dalton’s criminal proceedings. Specifically, it is stated that Judge Gordon engaged in communications with the judge presiding over her son’s criminal proceeding, as well as County Attorney Claude Porter. Notably, however, the Commission’s Order does not appear to consider or address the specific rights afforded to Judge Gordon as the victim of her son’s crimes under Ky. Const., Section 26A (also known as ‘Marsy’s Law’).”

In her “Response to Formal Notice of Proceedings and Charges” filed on Nov. 22, 2021, Gordon directed the Commission to the Kentucky constitutional amendment known as Marsy’s Law.

“Although the amendment is very new and does not appear to have been applied to a judge as victim yet, Judge Gordon respectfully submits that her rights under the Kentucky Constitution as a victim are not diminished by Judicial Canons,” her November response reads. 

The response continued later, “…Judge Gordon was necessarily ‘involved’ with Dalton’s case in the sense that she was the victim and complaining witness and had certain constitutional rights pursuant to Marsy’s Law. That is the only capacity in which Judge Gordon was ‘involved’; she did not understand the Commission to be asking her about exercising her constitutional rights and apologizes for not having noted that distinction, and for any confusion this may have caused….. The bond requirements were for the benefit of the victim. Judge Gordon had a constitutional right pursuant to Marsy’s Law to express her preference as the victim. It is not up to the victim to police the defendant obeying the bond restrictions.” 

Per the motion to reconsider, Gordon and her counsel argued that her rights under Marsy’s Law were also addressed by counsel during the recent hearing regarding charges made against Gordon. 

The motion reads, “During cross examination of County Attorney Claud Porter, counsel for Judge Gordon posed the following question: ‘Do you [Claud Porter] like to talk to parents and victims?’ To which Mr. Porter responded by stating, ‘I think it’s part of my job. Of course, now we’re statutorily required to do that through Marsy’s Law …,’ Counsel also made mention of Judge Gordon’s rights as a victim under Marsy’s Law during his closing statements.”

What happens next

The Commission’s ruling to remove Gordon from office is set to take effect on May 2, unless an appeal is filed during that time. 

According to Jimmy Shaffer, JCC Executive Secretary, Commission orders are appealed directly to the Kentucky Supreme Court. 

“The Kentucky Supreme Court has the power to affirm, modify or set aside in whole or in part the order of the Commission, or to remand to the Commission for further proceedings,” Shaffer said Monday via email.

Leigh Anne Hiatt, Public Information Officer for the Administrative Office of the Courts, said Monday that Gordon remains on paid suspension both during the 10 days until the order goes into effect, and any length of time until the Supreme Court issues a decision on an appeal.

Thomas and Joe Castlen still serving on Family Court bench

Judges Thomas and Joe Castlen are prepared to continue on the Family Court bench through the end of Gordon’s term if the ruling for her removal is upheld. 

They were appointed to fill the role on Dec. 7, 2021. Joe said that he and his brother are currently allotted to serve the bench until December 31, 2022 — the end of the term.

Joe said things have been going well in the courtroom, and that he and Thomas alternate days that they serve on the bench.

“We’ll be fine, we got things in pretty good order here so we’re in pretty good shape [to go until December,] Joe said.

April 26, 2022 | 2:44 pm

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