JUDGE BANS LICENSED ATTORNEY FROM APPEARING IN HIS COURTROOM – No explanation given to support this banishment order

LawReader has received several reports from Williamsburg in Whitley County concerning the conduct of Whitley Circuit Court Judge Dan Ballou.
LawReader has obtained a copy of a court order which was sent to a local attorney and to Paul E. Braden Chief Circuit Judge for the Whitley Circuit Court and to Kentucky Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr., in 2009.
The court order is a public record. The order states:
“IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that on days when Circuit Court is in session for Division 1, XXXX XXXX (we have omitted the attorneys name), shall not be present in the Judge’s Chamber or the non-public access secured area, as Mr. XXXX (we have omitted the attorneys name), has no cases in Division I, and to avoid disruption while the Court is conducting official business.”
/s/ Dan Ballou, Judge
Whitley Circuit Court – Division I”

This court order does not cite any legal authority for a blanket order forbidding a licensed attorney to enter his courtroom. The court order does not provide any findings of fact justifying the alleged threat of “disruption” of his court, nor does it cite any incidents where the attorney has actually disrupted a hearing or trial. LawReader invited a response and explanation from Judge Ballou but he has ignored our request for his version of this story.

No other judge in the 34th. Judicial District has barred this attorney from practicing in their courtrooms. We have been informed that local attorneys have obtained video tapes of the Judge Ballou’s conduct during hearings and trials, and that these videos are being passed around in Whitley County. We have not seen these videos and don’t know what they reveal.
It is reported that on one occasion the banned attorney happened to be in the courthouse on business, and was approached by two Deputy Sheriff’s and told that he could not remain near Judge Ballou’s courtroom or he would be arrested at the direction of Judge Ballou. This suggests that the order effectively bans the attorney from the Whitley Counthy Courthouse when Judge Ballou is also in the building. On another occasion the judge called the city police to assist the deputies in keeping the attorney away from Judge Ballou. We have no reports of any improper conduct by the attorney.

The Supreme Court of Kentucky has issued rules regarding the admission of lawyers to practice law. If the Bar Association licenses an attorney to practice law, this gives him the right to practice in all courts in the Commonwealth. Those Supreme Court rules do not grant trial judges the right to unilaterally determine who may be qualified to practice in their court.

This court order remains a standing order in Whitley County. While the court order of Judge Ballou mentins his chambers and private areas of the court house, in practice the attorney has been threatened with arrest for being in the courthouse when Judge Ballous is also in the courthouse.

Such a policy appears to be in violation of Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct which applies to all Kentucky judges.

“(4) A judge shall be patient, dignified and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers and others with whom the judge deals in an official capacity, and shall require similar conduct of lawyers, and of staff, court officials and others subject to the judge’s direction and control.”

We know of no rule or law that allows a sitting judge to ban a lawyer from his courtroom without a hearing. It is one thing to order an attorney who disrupts a trial to be banned from the courtroom during that trial, but a blanket order restricting the attorney from ever entering his courtroom appears overly broad, and appears to violate the constitutional right of public trials.

If there is a justifiable reason for Judge Ballou’s banishment order, it was not disclosed in his order.
Other reports published in 2011 cite a sanction of Judge Ballou for improper campaigning for political candidates.

Whitley County judge charged with misconduct over campaign issues
January 28, 2011

See: http://bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com/2011/01/28/whitley-county-judge-charged-with-misconduct-over-campaign-donations/
By Beth Musgrave – bmusgrave@herald-leader.com

“FRANKFORT — A Circuit Court judge for McCreary and Whitley counties has been charged with two counts of judicial misconduct for contributing money to U.S. Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign and for sending campaign material touting U.S. Sen. Rand Paul to other judges via e-mail.
Circuit Judge Daniel Ballou of Williamsburg was charged by the Judicial Conduct Commission in November for contributing $562 to McCain’s campaign in 2008. Ballou also sent out an e-mail in January 2010 about Rand Paul’s stance on the 2nd Amendment. The e-mail was sent to dozens of people.
The judicial canons, which govern judicial conduct, say a judge “shall refrain from inappropriate political activity.” According to the canons, political activity includes soliciting funds or making contributions to a political organization or candidate. The canons also say a judge can not publicly endorse or oppose a candidate for public office. “

The Associated Press reported:
“A circuit court judge for McCreary and Whitley counties has been publicly reprimanded for sending campaign materials via email to all Kentucky circuit court judges last year touting Republican Rand Paul’s bid for the U.S. Senate.
The commission said Ballou violated the state judicial conduct code by publicly endorsing Paul for public office and by engaging in political activity. Ballou agreed to the commission’s order.
Ballou sent an email in January 2010 about Paul’s stance on the Second Amendment dealing with the right to bear arms.
Ballou denied all the allegations in a motion filed with the Judicial Conduct Commission on Jan. 21.
The Judicial Conduct Commission took the action Monday against Circuit Judge Daniel Ballou who serves in McCreary and Whitley counties.
Ballou had acknowledged that he sent the email containing Paul’s campaign material to more than 50 other judges across the state. The commission determined that to be a violation of judicial rules that prohibit judges from endorsing political candidates and engaging in political activity.”

The Associated Press Reported on Sept. l9, 2011 that Judge Ballou had been reprimanded publically by the Judicial Conduct Commission.
Recent reports to LawReader state that Judge Ballou received a sanction letter from the Judicial Conduct Commission, and that he had the sanction letter autographed by Senator Rand Paul and that the autographed letter was posted on the Judge’s office wall.

The KBA Bar Counsel’s Office recently criticized an attorney for not being sufficiently “contrite” after he was sanctioned. LawReader does not believe that an attorney or a judge who is sanctioned must be “contrite” ….but in any event Judge Ballou is certainly proud of his sanction by the Judicial Conduct Commission.

We find it strange that Senator Rand Paul would autograph a sanction letter against a judge. The campaign donation by Judge Ballou went to Senator Rand. The sanction directly involved Judge Ballou’s support of Senator Paul. We wonder if Senator Paul is helping Judge Ballou thumb his nose at the Judicial Conduct Commission and at the same time demonstrating his support of Senator Paul.

Other claims from Whitley County state that Judge Ballou has posted political campaign posters on his judicial office wall. Judge Ballou was presented with this allegation by LawReader and he has not confirmed or denied this report.

The Judicial Canons that apply to the allegations re: Judge Ballou’s conduct are Canon 5 and Canon 2:

A. Political Conduct in General.
(1) A judge or a candidate for election to judicial office shall not:
(a) act as a leader or hold any office in a political organization;
(b) make speeches for or against a political organization or candidate or publicly endorse or oppose a candidate for public office;
(c) solicit funds for or pay an assessment or make a contribution to a political organization or candidate,… “


“A. A judge shall respect and comply with the law and shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.”

“Public confidence in the judiciary is eroded by irresponsible or improper conduct by judges. A judge must avoid all impropriety and appearance of impropriety. A judge must expect to be the subject of constant public scrutiny. A judge must therefore accept restrictions on the judge’s conduct that might be viewed as burdensome by the ordinary citizen and should do so freely and willingly.”

If Judge Ballou believes his rights supercede the requirements of the Code of Judicial Conduct, then perhaps he will share his theory with LawReader. We will publish anything Judge Ballou sends us.

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