A judge who has been on the bench for 20 years in Utah has been suspended without pay for 6 months following a Utah Supreme Court ruling that reprimanded him for comments he’s made in and out of the courtroom that were critical of President Trump. His remarks, the ruling stated, called the judge’s impartiality into question.
NBC News reports:
[Judge Michael] Kwan, who has served as a justice court judge in Taylorsville for 20 years, was cited for “improper use of judicial authority and his inappropriate political commentary,” the latter often involving President Trump.
The court noted multiple times when Kwan had provided political comments that criticized Trump, as a presidential candidate in 2016 and as president on his Facebook page and in court.
Three days after the 2016 election, Kwan wrote on Facebook, “Think I’ll go to the shelter to adopt a cat before the President-Elect grabs them all” — a reference to the “Access Hollywood” tape in which Trump was heard bragging about grabbing women’s genitals without consent.
Almost a month after Trump’s inauguration, Kwan said “welcome to the beginning of the fascist takeover” and questioned whether Congressional Republicans would be “the American Reichstag,” this time referring to the political body of Nazi Germany.
The court’s ruling states that in addition to acknowledging that he violated the Utah Code of Judicial Conduct with regards to his comments about President Trump, “Kwan similarly admits that he violated the code of conduct when he lost his temper with a member of the court’s staff and improperly used his judicial authority to seek that individual’s removal from the premises.”
Justice John Pearce wrote the court’s opinion and made it clear that the court believed Kwan had undermined the confidence that the public should have in the judiciary system:
Judge Michael Kwan’s posts on Facebook and LinkedIn in 2016-2017 violated the judicial code of conduct and diminished “the reputation of our entire judiciary,” wrote Utah State Supreme Court Justice John A. Pearce in an opinion posted Wednesday.
“Judge Kwan’s behavior denigrates his reputation as an impartial, independent, dignified, and courteous jurist who takes no advantage of the office in which he serves,” Pearce said.
The Associated Press article also notes that Kwan was appointed by city officials in 1998 to serve on the bench in Taylorsville and that voters have kept him in office.
The Utah Judicial Conduct Committee recommended a reprimand for Kwan in 2016 based on their investigative findings into his involvement with a political advocacy group, and stipulated that it should “only take effect upon implementation of the same by the Utah Supreme Court.”
The Utah Supreme Court’s 19 page ruling can be read here, and documents several other instances of judicial misconduct from Kwan involving anti-Trump political statements.
—Based in North Carolina, Sister Toldjah is a former liberal and a 15+ year veteran of blogging with an emphasis on media bias, social issues, and the culture wars. Read her Red State archives here. Connect with her on Twitter.–