Nance resigns judgeship

By Sam Terry
Managing Editor
Jobe Publishing, Inc.

FAMILY COURT JUDGE W. MITCHELL NANCE, right, was sworn in by then-Circuit Judge Phillip Patton in January 2015. Nance resigned effective December 16, 2017.

Facing formal charges of misconduct by the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission, W. Mitchell Nance, Family Court Judge for Barren and Metcalfe Counties, has resigned his position effective December 16, 2017. Nance serves the 43rd Judicial Circuit’s Second Division commonly known as Family Court. Nance submitted his resignation to Gov. Matt Bevin on October 25.

On April 27, Nance issued General Order 17-01 in which he declared that “under no circumstance” would the adoption of a child by a homosexual be in the child’s best interest. He acknowledged in his order that the declaration might constitute a “personal bias or prejudice” against homosexuals seeking to adopt children. Nance asked that attorneys filing motions for adoptions notify the court staff in cases involving homosexual parties so he could recuse and disqualify himself from the case.

The Judicial Conduct Commission gave notice of charges against Nance on September 11. In a notice of formal proceedings against Nance, Commission Chairman Stephen D. Wolnitzek stated that Nance’s actions constituted misconduct in office and violated certain portions of the Canons of the Code of Judicial Conduct. Those canons include:
                    • Canon 1 which requires judges to maintain high standards of conduct and uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary.
                    • Canon 2A which requires judges to respect and comply with the law and act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.
                    • Canon 3B(1) which requires a judge to hear and decide matters assigned to the judge except those in which disqualification is required.
                    • Canon 3B(2) which requires a judge to be faithful to the law; and,                     

                    • Canon 3B(5) which prohibits a judge from manifesting, by words or conduct, a bias or prejudice based upon race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status.

The second count against Nance was also for misconduct in office by enacting a Local Rule for Barren and Metcalfe Family Courts without approval from the Chief Justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court as required. The Commission maintained that Canon 1 and Canon 2A were violated.

According to Wolnitzek’s formal notice, the Commission was prepared for a hearing on the matter and requested that Nance file an answer to the charges within 15 days. Nance requested an extension of time which was granted through October 26.

Nance submitted his resignation to Gov. Bevin on October 25. His attorney, Bryan H. Beauman submitted Nance’s answer to the charges the same day, requesting that the matter be dismissed by the Commission.

5 Comments

  1. Patty Adams on October 26, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    This is disgusting. Judge Nance you will be missed. Never should you have to have been put in this position to start with but you are RIGHT. How awful for the children. Our courts and Government are ruining this country. You would of been a good senator. You should run. Shame on the higher up judges. You are ruining lives. Kim Davis too stood up for what is right and was punished. How sick has this country gotten America is so broken. Until you open your eyes and see it America will continue to wither away. weaker and weaker for the enemy because of sickening changes

  2. seaborn ellzey on October 26, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    People may agree or disagree with Judge Nance’s principles that prompted him to resign his Judgeship but I personally commend him for his unwavering refusal to compromise his stance on his beliefs.

  3. John David Simpson on October 26, 2017 at 5:34 pm

    I am an Illinois resident so I am an outsider as far as this jurisdiction. I just want to say that I have read the cannons for Illinois, and in my opinion to be a Judge, true to the cannons, takes a remarkable person. A person able and willing to place the law truly above his own self and opinions. This Judge violated these cannons, but I commend him that he noted as such, knowing that he did so and the consequences that would follow. He showed himself to be an honorable man that he came up upon a law that he on a personal level could not reconcile or endorse, and rather than take the easier way that is to lie and cheat or keep silent, he made the statement that, “He could not stay true to his oath to the people, and true to his own thoughts and feelings on this issue at the same time.” I commend him for such honesty, not just to the people he works for, but to himself.
    If only more of our public servants were of such honor. I thank you Judge W. Mitchell Nance, for upholding the spirit of your position as a true and honorable judge.

  4. Gayle Kerney on October 26, 2017 at 7:22 pm

    Proud of a man who stands up for his principles.

  5. Bob Cline on October 27, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    Never heard of Judge Nance until reading today’s USA Today and this article that appeared on the web.
    Hat’s off to Judge Nance for standing up for his beliefs regarding homosexuals and adoption issue.
    I commend you, we need more politicians like yourself here in NYS.
    You have this New Yorker’s respect.

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