A Utah judge who’s been on the bench for more than 20 years has been suspended for six months without pay over Facebook post slamming President Trump’s “inability to govern and political incompetence.”
Utah Supreme Court Justice John A. Pearce concluded in an opinion posted Wednesday that Judge Michael Kwan’s politically-charged posts on both his Facebook and LinkedIn accounts in 2016 and 2017 were in violation of the judicial code of conduct and diminished the “reputation of our entire judiciary.”
“Welcome to the beginning of the fascist takeover,” a post from February 2017 read. “We need to be diligent in questioning Congressional Republicans if they are going to be the American Reichstag and refuse to stand up for the Constitution, refuse to uphold their oath of office and enable the tyrants to consolidate their power.”
On Inauguration Day, the Taylorsville judge posted: “Welcome to governing. Will you dig your heels in and spend the next four years undermining our country’s reputation and standing world? … Will you continue to demonstrate your inability to govern and political incompetence?”
Pearce added that while Kwan’s accounts were set to private, his friends were still able to share what he posted.
“Judge Kwan’s behavior denigrates his reputation as an impartial independent, dignified and courteous jurist who takes no advantage of the office in which he serves,” the opinion read.
Pearce also noted in the 19-page document that Kwan’s Facebook posts are among several other issues raised about his conduct, which include making politically charged comments in the courtroom. He once told a defendant who planned to use a tax refund to pay off his court fines that Trump’s tax cuts would result in no refunds.
“You do realize we have a new president, and you think we are getting any money back?” he asked the defendant, who responded saying they were still praying for the refund.
“Okay. Prayer might be the answer. ‘Cause he just signed an order to start building the wall and he has no money to do that, and so if you think that you are going to get taxes back this year, uh yeah, maybe, maybe not. But don’t worry there’s a tax cut for the wealthy so if you make over $500,000 you’re getting a tax cut. You’re right there? Pretty Close?” he said according to Pearce’s opinion.
Kwan has been a justice court judge in the Salt Lake City suburb of Taylorsville since 1998. He typically handles misdemeanor cases, violations of ordinances and small claims.
Greg Skrodas, Kwan’s attorney said they were disappointed with the lengthy suspension but acknowledge they were always expected some type of disciplinary action. He defended he client, saying Kwan felt very strongly about the results of the 2016 election and made his remarks “in haste.”
“He certainly regrets making those statements and is committed to not doing anything like that again,” he said.
Taylorsville officials accepted the punishment and agreed to allow Kwan to return to the bench following his six-month punishment.
With News Wire Services
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