LONDON — The panel considering whether Harlan County Circuit Judge Russell D. Alred broke ethics rules will likely issue its decision within two weeks, the chairman said Wednesday.
If the Judicial Conduct Commission rules that Alred broke rules, its findings will include a recommended punishment.
That could range from a private admonishment to removal from office. Alred could appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court.
The commission, which considers complaints against judges, finished a hearing on the charges Wednesday.
In his closing argument, Alred acknowledged that he raised money for playground equipment at a school where his wife taught and his children had attended, which is the subject of two charges.
However, Alred said he did not use the authority of his office to raise money.
And he said the other 11 charges against him were groundless, trumped up by political opponents.
"It was an orchestrated effort to try to destroy me," Alred said.
Several charges deal with his decision to appoint a special grand jury in April 2010 to investigate an allegation that Judge-Executive Joe Grieshop had given pills to a drug addict.
Alred's second cousin was challenging Grieshop for election when the order was released publicly.
Alred said he had no political motivation in appointing the jury.
However, the commission's attorney, Jeff Mando, said Alred did appoint the grand jury for political reasons, and because he was mad at Grieshop.
After Alred's order caused a stink in the election, Commonwealth's Attorney Henry S. Johnson decided to present the case to a panel other than the one Alred appointed, so that Grieshop's name could be cleared before the vote, Mando said.
Another key issue in the ethics case is whether Alred improperly pushed for a $500,000 donation to the county by two doctors who pleaded guilty in a drug case.
Alred also is accused of filing a court document that misrepresented his attempt to control that money, which he wanted used for a water park.
Alred said the idea of the donation came from defense attorneys, and he said he had no improper role in arranging it.
He said the order he filed was not an attempt to hide anything, but to correct language in the first order that he hadn't sought.
Mando, however, said Alred was well aware of the language and even told the fiscal court he had veto power over the donation.
Several charges allege that Alred had improper involvement in cases or exceeded his authority.
"Every decision I made was in good faith," Alred told the commission.
But Mando argued Alred has taken part in a number of violations that tainted the integrity of the judiciary.
"These are serious charges and I think they call for serious consequences," he said.