- Associated Press - Saturday, June 20, 2015

NEWPORT, Ky. (AP) - A district judge in northern Kentucky is facing a 15-day suspension from the bench for misconduct.

The Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission said that Campbell County District Judge Gregory T. Popovich violated five canons of the state Code of Judicial Conduct. The commission issued its findings Thursday.

The charges stem from a DUI case, The Kentucky Enquirer (http://cin.ci/1H5j8Fh) reported. During a 2014 status hearing in the case, the judge said it appeared the assistant prosecutor, Cameron J. Blau, was helping the defense with its case. The incident was recorded on video.

The statements in open court occurred when Popovich was locked in a tight re-election race with Blau.

An attorney for Popovich, Mark Arnzen, said the judge disagrees and is disappointed with the commission’s decision and is evaluating whether to appeal.

“When a judge believes there may be favoritism given to certain attorneys in his court, he is duty bound to act,” Arnzen said in a statement Friday. “Judge Popovich has always devoted 100 percent of his efforts to protecting the criminal justice system in Campbell County and he will continue to do so in the future.”

A complaint was filed with the conduct commission last September, and the commission authorized an investigation. A hearing was held on May 28.

The commission found that Popovich engaged in misconduct, didn’t respect and comply with the law “to act in a manner that promotes public confidence in integrity and impartiality of the judiciary,” allowed political interest to impair his objectivity and let outside interests and activities take precedence over his judicial duties. The commission also said Popovich violated another section of the code because “he was not patient, dignified and courteous” to the defense council and assistant county attorney.

The commission agreed that Popovich would be suspended from judicial duties without pay for 15 days.

The order is to become effective within 10 days of service, unless an appeal is filed.

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Information from: The Kentucky Enquirer, http://www.nky.com

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