State

Kentucky judge faces more ethics charges stemming from her ex-husband’s criminal case

Donald Maze
Donald Maze

A Kentucky circuit judge allegedly signed the names of other people without permission on documents in a criminal case involving her ex-husband.

That allegation was outlined in ethics charges the state Judicial Conduct Commission released Tuesday against Judge Beth Lewis Maze.

The commission had already filed two ethics charges against Maze, the circuit judge for Bath, Rowan, Montgomery and Menifee counties.

The new report added two additional charges against Maze.

The allegations stem from an incident in September 2017 in Bath County, in which Maze’s ex-husband, Donald “Champ” Maze, was arrested on several charges after police stopped him on Interstate 64, including illegal possession of a controlled substance.

Beth Maze acknowledged that she contacted Bath County Jailer Earl Willis, a pre-trial release officer and a district judge about the arrest, but denied seeking favorable treatment for her ex-husband.

Rather, she said in a response to the commission that she contacted other court officials to alert them of potential conflicts of interest arising from the case.

Donald Maze had served three terms as Bath County attorney before going to federal prison in a vote-buying case from the 2006 election.

Judge Maze said Willis, the jailer, asked her to issue an order for St. Joseph Hospital in Mount Sterling to perform a drug test on her ex-husband.

However, Willis told Maze that St. Joseph had refused to perform the test.

Willis then took Donald Maze to Clark Regional Medical Center in Winchester, and Judge Maze issued a second order for a drug test to be performed.

Maze said in her answer to the initial ethics charges that 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.”

However, the two orders she issued for the tests are the subject of the new charges against the judge.

Judge Maze signed “Bath Co. Attorney” on one order, and on the second signed for the county attorney and the commonwealth’s attorney, according to the commission.

That indicated both officials had seen, and agreed to, the orders for a drug test, but both denied they had seen the orders or agreed to them, the commission said in the charges.

Judge Maze also signed a defense attorney’s name on one document, but there is no indication she had authority to do that, according to the charges.

The commission charged that Maze violated ethics rules that require judges to maintain high standards of conduct, to uphold the integrity of the judiciary, and to respect and comply with the law.

Further, the commission said Maze had not told the commission about signing the documents. That violated a rule requiring judges to cooperate with the commission, the panel charged.

Maze has not responded to the new charges. Her attorney, Thomas E. Clay, said Maze and her attorneys consider the case to be “very serious,” but declined comment on the details of her intended response.

Clay said he understands the commission will attempt to temporarily suspend Maze as it considers the charges.

The commission has the authority to impose sanctions on judges ranging from a private reprimand to removal from office.

A grand jury ultimately indicted Donald Maze on several charges related to the September 2017 traffic stop, including possession of methamphetamine.

He entered an Alford plea in the case, meaning he did not admit guilt but acknowledged there was sufficient evidence for a conviction.

He has not been sentenced.

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