Kentucky judge says she didn’t seek favorable treatment for arrested ex-husband

Donald Maze
Donald Maze

A circuit judge admitted she contacted a jailer, pretrial services and a district judge about her ex-husband’s arrest last year but said she never requested that those officials take any action on his behalf.

The charges and Circuit Judge Beth Lewis Maze’s response were publicly released Tuesday by the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission. A formal hearing on the matter will probably be held within six to eight weeks, said Jimmy Shaffer, the commission’s executive secretary.

In a written answer to the commission, Judge Maze said her purpose in contacting pretrial and the district judge “was to minimize the burden on other court personnel by alerting them to the conflict to avoid late-hour inconvenience.”

Maze is circuit judge for Bath, Rowan, Menifee and Montgomery counties.

Judicial canons or rules, among other standards, require judges to act in a manner that “promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.”

On Sept. 18, Maze received information that her ex-husband, former Bath County Attorney Donald “Champ” Maze, was arrested on several criminal charges including possession of a controlled substance.

Donald Maze had been stopped on Interstate 64 in Bath County by an officer with the Owingsville police department.

In her written response to the commission, Judge Maze admitted she contacted Bath County Jailer Earl Willis, but Willis was “unsure whether Judge Maze’s ex-husband was going to be arrested or issued a citation.”

After making contact with Willis, Judge Maze admits she contacted pretrial services for the purpose of alerting them “that the local pretrial worker might have to seek outside assistance from a worker in a different judicial circuit to avoid a conflict.”

Pretrial service officers interview defendants and make recommendations to judges about whether defendants should be released from jail on bond.

Judge Maze also admitted she contacted Bath District Judge William Roberts “to alert him what was going on about a potential conflict.”

Judge Maze said Jailer Willis later asked her to issue an order for St. Joseph Hospital in Mount Sterling to perform a drug test on her ex-husband. But Willis told Maze that St. Joseph had refused to perform the test.

Willis then took Donald Maze to Clark Regional Medical Center in Winchester. Maze issued a second order for a drug test to be performed. But Willis told Maze that the Winchester hospital advised that a doctor’s order was needed, not a court order.

In her answer, Judge Maze said she “believes any person under similar circumstances as her ex-husband has a right to have a drug test performed, regardless of what the test results might produce, to preserve evidence because evidence can be dissipated if not preserved timely.”

The conduct commission alleged that Maze’s actions violated several canons of judicial conduct and that they constitute misconduct in office.

The initial charges against Donald Maze stemming from the September 2017 traffic stop were dismissed. But in November, he was indicted on various counts, including a charge of possession of methamphetamine, in connection with that traffic stop.

He entered an Alford plea earlier this month and is scheduled for sentencing on Oct. 22. In an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges that there is sufficient evidence to convict.

Donald Maze pleaded guilty in 2007 to federal charges of perjury and vote-buying in the 2006 election. He had previously served three terms as county attorney before losing in 2002.

He served time in federal prison and was disbarred by the Kentucky Supreme Court in 2013.