Family court judge gets 4 new charges

SEPT. 29 HEARING SET FOR GORMLEY

shopkins@herald-leader.comSeptember 23, 2009 

GEORGETOWN — The state's judicial conduct commission filed four new charges of misconduct this week against a Central Kentucky family court judge who had been charged earlier this year with misconduct in relation to three incidents in Scott and Woodford counties.

The commission initially charged Family Court Judge Tamra Gormley, who was appointed in 2007 to a district that covers Scott, Woodford and Bourbon counties, with three counts of misconduct in February. The new charges stem from four incidents this year in which the commission says Gormley acted inappropriately.

Gormley could not be reached for comment. After she was charged earlier this year, Gormley declined to discuss the commission's charges but said she was "a hard-working judge" who presides over 7,500 court proceedings each year, working in one of the busiest courts in the state, and "most people who come before me recognize these qualities and are appreciative of the positive impact our court has on families."

Gormley said she was confident she conducted herself appropriately.

According to a written notice of formal proceedings and charges, dated Sept. 2, Gormley held closed court in proceedings that should have been open. She allegedly denied Toyota employees access to the court by issuing an order, which the commission rescinded in July, saying modifications of child support would not be considered for Toyota employees until Dec. 31. She delayed deposition in a custody case for more than six months, the commission said. And she did not follow proper procedures in terminating parental rights to two fathers, according to the commission.

In a written response dated Sept. 21, Gormley denied being in violation for open court proceedings, saying she only closed court when the law supported such a decision. She also said the commission is aware of family courts that conduct proceedings in the same manner, and the Kentucky Supreme Court has recognized inconsistencies among family courts in open and closed sessions.

As for Toyota, Gormley's response said she was worried short-term concerns about Toyota's production had led to numerous requests to the Scott County attorney to modify child support obligations of its employees. And employees, who were paid a bonus in May, were unable to establish a substantial and continuing change in income.

The judge's response said no affected party requested relief from the standing order. Gormley said she did not issue the order to deny anyone access to the court.

Gormley said in her response that the inadvertent delay in the custody case, in which she denied the father visitation, did not affect the welfare of the children or delay their return with the father. Her response also said the final order was entered within mandated time frames.

In regard to the fourth count, in which the commission says Gormley did not follow proper procedures in terminating parental rights to a father in Bourbon County and another in Woodford County, Gormley said the allegations were inaccurate and did not reflect her interpretation of the law.

The commission's charges could result in separate or collective penalties including public or private reprimand, suspension without pay or removal or retirement from judicial office. According to state law, the commission, which investigates and reviews complaints against judges, is the only entity authorized to discipline a sitting Kentucky judge.

Gormley is scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 29 for a hearing.

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