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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Judicial panel brings charges against Monticello judge

Posted By on Thu, Sep 20, 2012 at 10:20 AM

JUDGE KEN HARPER
  • Monticello Live
  • JUDGE KEN HARPER
The state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission announced today that it had brought formal charges against Monticello District Court Judge Ken Harper, generally stemming from his failure to follow a previous agreement to treat alcohol abuse. He's been reported to have been seen buying and consuming alcohol and being intoxicated in public, a fact that has made witnesses in his court reluctant to testify in his court on other cases.

The full release here is loaded with specifics of a finding of sufficient evidence that:

* Harper allowed an unlicensed driver who was a convicted felony to operate his car and obtain liquor for him, though the man had been a defendant in Harper's court. Harper also tried to talk to a state trooper who stopped the car.

* The judge has moved in with a friend who has been convicted of theft of property and has had multiple traffic and criminal offenses in Harper's court, with fines due.

* Multiple witnesses have given information about abuse of alcohol and prescription drugs.

The commission says the violations are serious enough, if proven at a full trial, to result in removal from office. Harper, who's been on the bench roughly 20 years, has 30 days to respond to the complaint.

Monticello Live is reporting that Harper has announced his intention to resign. The Judicial Commission has received no correspondence from Harper since a censure last November. He said he'd volunteer to the governor a willingness to serve in the interim until a successor is appointed. Retirement won't end his judicial proceeding, because he'd still be eligible to be a judge and the panel seems inclined to move to end that possibility.

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