If there’s any position in the United States that requires one to be politically neutral and not use his or her office to disparage a political figure on either side of the aisle, it’s that of a sitting judge.
But one Utah judge — who has held the position for more than 20 years — must not have understood that rule, as he faces a six-month suspension after criticizing President Donald Trump both online and in his courtroom.
According to Fox News, Michael Kwan — a Taylorsville, Utah, justice court judge since 1998 — found out the hard way that his repeated anti-Trump diatribe is not allowed. The Utah State Supreme Court handed down a six-month suspension without pay after Kwan publicly slammed Trump on Facebook and in his courtroom between 2016-2017.
Justice John Pearce, who sits on the state’s High Court, wrote in his opinion that Kwan diminished “the reputation of our entire judiciary.”
But he didn’t stop there.
“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,” Pearce wrote.
Kwan, who keeps his political preference private — which is a benefit afforded by state law — has a history of making inappropriate remarks about politicians from both sides of the aisle.
The investigation into his anti-Trump remarks, according to KTSU, was opened in 2017 after Kwan’s comments to a defendant included a bizarre anti-Trump rant — one that probably had everyone in the courtroom scratching their heads.
After a defendant in a case over which Kwan presided told the judge that he would use his tax refund to pay the court fees, Kwan went off the rails with a line that sounds like it was straight out of a Democratic talking-point pamphlet.
“Prayer might be the answer. ‘Cause, [Trump] just signed an order to start building the wall and he has no money to do that, and so if you think you are going to get taxes back this year, uh-yeah, maybe, maybe not,” the judge allegedly said.
“But don’t worry, there is a tax cut for the wealthy, so if you make over $500,000 you’re getting a tax cut,” he said.
Just one month after Trump’s Inauguration, Kwan posted online, “Welcome to the beginning of the fascist takeover … 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.”
That was one of several alleged posts Kwan made that were disparaging of both the president and Republicans.
Greg Skordas, Kwan’s attorney, admitted that the judge felt strongly about Trump’s election but that he realized his mistake. Now that he’s in trouble, Kwan suddenly “regrets making those statements” and is “committed” to not doing it again.
Let’s hope this punishment will give the anti-Trump judge a much-needed reality check. Because until Kwan changes his ways, it sounds like he’s more suited to hold an anchor gig for MSNBC or CNN.
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