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Family Court Judge Who Refused to Hear Adoption Cases by Gay Parents Resigns

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A Kentucky ethics panel has filed charges against a family court judge who refused to handle adoptions by gay parents. The judge, W. Mitchell Nance, submitted his resignation on Wednesday. 

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

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.” Nance requested that any attorney filing a motion on behalf of a “homosexual party” notify the court so that he could recuse himself. The request did not gain Nance that recusal option.

Instead, the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission filed charges against Nance for violating ethics rules and for “misconduct in office.” Nance was charged with failing to respect and comply with the law, failing to hear matters assigned to him, and “manifesting by words or conduct a bias or prejudice…” based several conditions, including sexual orientation.

The Judicial Conduct Commission notified Nance that the consequences could range from a reprimand to removal from office. Nance did not wait for the commission to take action. He submitted his resignation to Gov. Bevin on Wednesday, effective Dec. 16.

Attorneys for Nance said his resignation makes the charges moot and asked for the case to be dismissed.

Rhonda Miller began as reporter and host for All Things Considered on WKU Public Radio in 2015. She has worked as Gulf Coast reporter for Mississippi Public Broadcasting, where she won Associated Press, Edward R. Murrow and Green Eyeshade awards for stories on dead sea turtles, health and legal issues arising from the 2010 BP oil spill and homeless veterans.
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