A circuit judge in Harlan County is seeking to ward off potential state judicial-ethics charges against him.
An attorney for Judge Russell D. Alred filed a federal lawsuit Thursday asking a judge to issue an injunction barring the Judicial Conduct Commission from continuing a case against Alred.
The commission, which hears allegations of improprieties against judges, intends to remove Alred from office, the lawsuit says.
Alred argues in the lawsuit that the commission's rules are unconstitutional and that it has been unfair to him, violating his rights.
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An investigator for the panel has disregarded evidence favorable to Alred, the lawsuit says.
The complaint also asks that the commission be barred from disclosing any of the allegations against Alred.
The lawsuit does not list the allegations, and the commission has not disclosed them.
Preliminary investigations by the panel are confidential, though the matters become public at some point if the commission decides to open formal proceedings against a judge.
The commission notified Alred in February it intended to open formal proceedings, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit confirms that Alred has been under scrutiny by the conduct commission for months.
Controversy flared last year after Alred ordered that a special grand jury hear evidence about alleged drug activity by the county judge-executive, Joe Grieshop, who was facing an election challenge from a cousin of Alred.
Alred said the family connection played no role in his decision.
A grand jury exonerated Grieshop.
Grieshop was critical of Alred at the time, but the circuit judge's lawsuit includes a statement attributed to Gries hop that says he later came to believe Alred was just doing his job.
Alred asked earlier that the chairman of the conduct commission, Stephen D. Wolnitzek of Covington, recuse himself from the case.
Wolnitzek has demonstrated bias against Alred and against Harlan County, calling the residents liars, Alred said.
However, Wolnitzek said Alred had taken certain allegations out of context. He said he had no bias or animosity toward Alred.
Wolnitzek was not available for comment Thursday evening.