Kentucky judge accused of pressuring lawyer to support his reelection, suspended

Published 9:10 pm Monday, August 15, 2022

A Kentucky judge was suspended with pay on Friday following testimony that he pressured a lawyer practicing in his court to support his reelection campaign.

Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission voted 3-2 to suspend 42nd Judicial Circuit Judge Jamie Jameson following a daylong hearing in which he told commissioners they were being used for political purposes, The Paducah Sun reported.

The hearing included testimony from attorney Lisa DeRenard that Jameson repeatedly asked her to support his reelection campaign against public defender Andrea Moore. DeRenard felt pressured to donate to his campaign, which she did multiple times, she said.

She also testified that Jameson “put her on the spot” at a fundraising event, asking her to speak in support of his campaign. And she said Jameson pressured her to make a bar complaint against Amy Harwood-Jackson, a public defender who supports his opponent.

Also testifying was Marshall County Sheriff Eddie McGuire, who said Jameson asked him to have a courthouse deputy removed from the building after a security video of Jameson was disseminated. Jameson contended the deputy posed a security risk, though he mentioned in his text message to McGuire that he believed the deputy was acting in the interest of his opponent.

Jameson was also accused of unbecoming conduct. The panel viewed a number of videos showing Jameson’s courtroom demeanor and use of his contempt power.

Jameson called character witnesses on his behalf, including local attorneys and a circuit clerk who praised his behavior as professional and said he treated defendants, attorneys and law enforcement with respect.

Jameson also took the stand in his own defense. He admitted that his behavior in the videos may have reflected a quick trigger or been the result of particularly stressful days, but he largely defended his actions as necessary to preserve courtroom decorum and punish unacceptable behavior. In one testy exchange, Jameson told commissioners he believed they were being used for political purposes.

Following the vote, Jameson called it “part of modern-day politics,” and said he would “stay the course.”