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Ky. judge accused of attempting to pressure WKMS staff

Murray Ledger & Times
Jessica Jones Paine

The state Judicial Conduct Commission has accused 42nd Judicial Circuit Judge Jamie Jameson of using his influence to attempt to silence reporters at WKMS. 

The commission said Jameson, who presides over Marshall and Calloway counties, tried to prevent the western Kentucky public radio station from running a story about the judge walking around the courthouse in his underwear.

According to commission documents and an interview with WKMS staff, Jameson learned a WKMS reporter had filed a records request for video footage he believed would show Jameson roaming the Marshall County Judicial Building partially dressed.

When Jameson learned of the records request, he called Chad Lampe, who was the station manager for WKMS at the time. According to the Judicial Conduct Commission’s charging documents, Jameson pressured Lampe not to pursue the story, saying he had contacted higher-ups at Murray State University, which holds the license for WKMS.

“You told Mr. Lampe you had already spoken to the President of the University and you told Mr. Lampe the President was not happy,” the commission’s report reads. “You asked Mr. Lampe to confirm that the news station was not going to run a story about the camera footage of you walking around in the courthouse in your underwear.”

The records request for the footage was denied by the Administrative Office of the Courts. WKMS news director Derek Operle said he had already decided not to appeal the records request denial when he got a call from Lampe, saying he had spoken to the judge. 

On the call, Operle said, Lampe relayed the judge’s explanation for his state of undress, which was, “of a highly personal nature,” Operle told WFPL News.

“But not something really that rose to the level of a news story,” he said.

WKMS never ran the story. 

“It was not a thing that the public needed to be aware of,” he said.

According to commission documents, after Lampe’s phone call with Jameson, the University Provost, Tim Todd, asked Lampe to provide more information about the records request.

Operle said Lampe did not tell him about Jameson going to Murray State administration, and he did not feel pressured one way or the other about the story.

“The WKMS news team doesn’t respond to threats of pressure or compromise its editorial integrity for any person in any position,” Operle said.

But he said, after reading the latest charges against the judge, he is concerned about the fact that pressure appears to have been attempted.

The commission found Jameson’s actions violated numerous judicial codes of conduct, including a duty to comply with the law and act in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary. The commission also found Jameson violated codes of conduct that prohibit a judge from abusing their power to advance personal interests.

The accusations are the latest in a long list against Jameson, many of which have been covered by WKMS.

Jameson is currently suspended from the bench due to previous allegations of misconduct

Neither Jameson, Todd nor the office of University President Bob Jackson responded to requests for comment by our deadline.

This story may be updated.

Jess is LPM's Education and Learning Reporter. Jess has reported on K-12 education for public radio audiences for the past five years, from the swamps of Southeast Louisiana at WWNO, New Orleans Public Radio, to the mountains of North Carolina at WUNC in Chapel Hill. Her stories have aired on national programs and podcasts, including NPR's All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and Weekend Edition, Here & Now and Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting. A Louisville native, Jess has her bachelor's degree from Centre College, and her masters in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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