Fayette County

Fayette family court Judge Kathy Stein suspended seven days

Judge Kathy Stein on Friday October 17, 2014 in Lexington, Ky.
Judge Kathy Stein on Friday October 17, 2014 in Lexington, Ky. mcornelison@herald-leader.com

A state panel has suspended Fayette County family court Judge Kathy W. Stein for seven days as a result of an ethics complaint.

The Judicial Conduct Commission announced the sanction Monday.

The commission said it received information that an attorney representing the father in a custody case, Charles Joseph Schindler, approached Stein last December and asked her to grant Schindler immediate temporary custody of the couple’s child.

Stein granted the request without holding a hearing or giving the mother a chance to respond, the commission said in its order.

Stein told an administrator at the child’s school that Schindler could pick up the child and that the mother, Carlie Simone Schindler, did not need to be informed of the decision.

Charles Joseph Schindler took his child out of school that day under the guise of going to a counseling session, but instead “absconded” with the child to Mississippi and stayed until the state Court of Appeals ordered the child returned to Kentucky, the commission said.

Stein said in an interview that the need for the father to have custody was presented to her as an emergency situation.

“I jumped the gun and did not give the mother an opportunity to be heard,” Stein said.

Stein said she regretted her handling of the issue.

The commission concluded Stein violated ethics rules, including a standard on giving everyone with an interest in a legal proceeding a right to be heard.

Stein waived formal proceedings and agreed to the suspension order, according to the commission.

Stein will be suspended without pay from Sept. 28 through Oct. 4.