Family court judge for Barren, Metcalfe counties resigns

Ruben Hill
October 27, 2017

A Kentucky judge who made national headlines earlier this year for his refusal to hear adoption cases involving gay, lesbian or bisexual adults has resigned, a state commission announced on Thursday.

Judge W. Mitchell Nance submitted a letter of resignation to Gov. Matt Bevin on Wednesday, saying he will retire on December 16, according to documents made public Thursday by the state's Judicial Conduct Commission.

"Nance filed an official statement in April that under no circumstance would he consider "...the adoption of a child by a homosexual to be in the child's best interest".

But they also conceded that Nance now acknowledges he shouldn't have created a blanket order without Supreme Court approval.

Judge Nance has been a Family Court judge for the 43rd Circuit that covers Barren and Metcalfe counties.

"He had proven he could not deliver the basic impartiality required by his office when it came to LGBTQ people and their families", Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign, said in response to Nance's forced resignation.

Instead, Nance resigned on Wednesday, waiving the hearing and requesting the charges against him be dismissed. He cited a state law requiring judges to disqualify themselves from proceedings when they have a personal bias or prejudice. "I hope this sends a message to judges across the country that if their conscience conflicts with their duty, they must leave the bench", he said.

Last month the commission, which investigates complaints of judicial misconduct and wrongdoing, notified Nance that it was charging him with multiple violations of judicial ethics rules, including those banning bias or prejudice based on sexual orientation. Nance did not wait for the commission to take action.

"His recusal would have facilitated the impartiality of the judicial system and ensured that all families had a fair opportunity for adoption", his attorney wrote in response to the charges. A federal judge recently said Kentucky taxpayers still owe almost $225,000 in legal fees and court costs to the couples who sued the county clerk for refusing to issue marriage licenses because of her opposition to same-sex marriage.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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