As expected Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen’s attorneys have asked that judicial ethics charges brought against the judge last week be dismissed.
The Associated Press reports on the latest. The request goes to different members of the commission than the three-member group that recommended charges. Griffen has said efforts to punish him for participating in a demonstration outside the Governor’s Mansion violate his constitutional rights to free speech and religion. A Baptist pastor, he said he was emulating Jesus on the cross by laying bound on a cot on Good Friday amid a demonstration against the death penalty. That day, Griffen also ruled in a property rights case in favor of drug distributors, a ruling that had the effect of blocking executions because the companies had asserted the state had obtained drugs improperly for a use for which they were not intended. Griffen is a foe of the death penalty, but has said it doesn’t affect his application of the law.
Griffen has successfully challenged ethics action over his speech before on 1st Amendment grounds and other court precedents provide him some protection as well. Gri9ffen has sued the state Supreme Court over its hurryup removal of Griffen from capital cases after some ex parte communications and also has filed an ethics complaint against the justices. His lawsuit is pending. The investigating panel has made no finding on the ethics complaint.
Some legislators want Griffen has impeached, though none has been heard to suggest the same for other judges, including one who eventually pleaded guilty to offering favorable treatment in his court to defendants who provided sexual favors.