- Associated Press - Friday, October 2, 2015

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - An eastern Kentucky judge accused of a long list of belligerent behavior - including making harassing phone calls to Pikeville city officials - has been suspended without pay for about a half year.

The state’s Judicial Conduct Commission said Friday its 180-day suspension of Pike County Circuit Judge Steven D. Combs was the result of an agreement it reached with the judge and his attorneys prior to a final hearing in the matter.

The suspension started Thursday and ends March 29, the commission said.

As part of the agreement, Combs must enroll in the Kentucky Lawyers Assistance Program for evaluation and assessment, and he agreed not to retaliation against any witnesses or people making complaints against him, the commission said.

The allegations against him included a series of belligerent phone calls Combs made to Pikeville police.

In one allegation, Combs was accused of contacting a police captain to demand an investigation of automated calls he received regarding drinking and driving during the holidays. Combs then allegedly said the next officer who pulled him over would get a “bullet in the head,” according to the commission. Combs did not admit to making those comments as part of the agreement.

Combs admitted to making numerous contentious calls to other city officials at the time but did not admit to allegations that he insulted certain city officials by calling them names like “coke head” and “Dumbo.”

Some allegations involved Combs’ actions in the courtroom. The judge admitted to improperly presiding over a case despite having an oil and gas lease agreement with a defendant. Combs disclosed that contract and eventually stepped aside from the case, his attorneys noted.

One of his attorneys, Steve Ryan, said Friday the judge intends to resume his judicial duties once the suspension is completed.

“It will definitely change his conduct out of court,” Ryan said. “He’s agreed to not call city officials in an official capacity complaining about things that happened in the city. He’s just going to continue to be a judge and not get involved in city politics.”

Combs serves in the 35th Judicial Circuit, which covers Pike County. There are three judges in the 35th Circuit, according to the state Administrative Office of the Courts. Combs took his place on the bench in 2003, it said.

Most circuit judges in Kentucky are paid $124,620 annually. Chief regional circuit judges are paid $125,620 per year.

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