Ky Family Court Judge Has to Decide on Case-by-Case Basis to Remove Himself in LGBT Adoptions

May 23, 2017
Originally published on May 23, 2017 10:19 am

A family court judge in Kentucky is being told he has to decide whether to recuse himself in gay adoption requests on a case-by-case basis.

Barren and Metcalfe County Judge Mitchell Nance had asked the state’s Chief Justice to approve a new rule that would allow him to recuse himself from all adoption cases involving LGBT adults.

Chief Justice John Minton Jr. denied the request last week, saying a judge cannot recuse himself from an entire class of cases, because a recusal has to be based on facts or circumstances of an individual case.

Nance filed an order last month saying he wanted to be advised by lawyers if they were bringing cases involving gay adults to his courtroom. He would then recuse himself from those cases because he doesn’t think adoption by “a practicing homosexual” could ever be in the best interest of a child.

Heather Gatnarek is a legal fellow with the Kentucky ACLU.

“Frankly, this is very unusual. Recusal exists for when judges have personal interest or personal bias in a case regarding specific individuals,” said Gatnarek. “What Judge Nance has done here is made public his bias towards an entire class of individuals.”

A spokeswoman for Judge Nance said he’s not commenting on the matter.

Gatnarek says Nance still appears to be operating under his own decision to recuse himself.

“The order that Judge Nance entered in April is public record and if it were rescinded or vacated that would also be in the public court record. As far as we know today, it has not been rescinded or vacated.”

The Family Foundation of Kentucky is supporting Judge Nance’s decision to recuse himself from cases where he may have a personal bias.

The Kentucky ACLU and other legal groups have files a complaint with the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission requesting that he be removed from the bench because he is failing to perform his judicial duties impartially.

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