Oklahoma chief justice recommends removing state judge over corruption allegations

The Associated Press - June 29, 2024 1:39 pm

By KEN MILLER Associated Press

(AP) — The chief judge of the Oklahoma Supreme Court is recommending the immediate suspension and eventual removal of a state judge who faces separate shooting charges in Oklahoma and Texas.

The petition filed on Thursday with the Oklahoma Court of the Judiciary by Chief Judge John Kane IV follows an investigation by the Council on Judicial Complaints into the actions of Garfield County Associate District Judge Brian Lovell.

The petition alleges Lovell had sex with two bailiffs of another judge at the courthouse during office hours and exchanged sexually graphic texts and images with one of the bailiffs at the courthouse during office hours. It also alleges neglect of duty, corruption, favoritism to one attorney, and improperly sealing a case assigned to another judge.

The Court of the Judiciary will meet July 2nd to discuss the matter and the first hearing on Kane’s petition is set for July 30th.

Lovell “has demonstrated a lack of respect for the judicial office with which he is entrusted, and an ongoing pattern of misconduct and dishonesty,” according to Kane’s petition.

“The conduct further demonstrates (Lovell’s) lack of temperament to serve as a judge, undermining public confidence in the independence, integrity, impartiality, and competence of the judiciary,” the petition states.

Lovell’s attorney, Stephen Jones, called the allegations an “ambush” and said the judge was never notified of the petition and a response from him was not sought.

Jones said his and Lovell’s absence at a March hearing on the matter cited by Kane was due to Jones being hospitalized and that the council knew of his condition.

“Judge Lovell is not guilty of gross neglect of duty, corruption in office, commission while in office of any offense involving moral turpitude, gross partiality in office, oppression in office, and any other grounds,” Jones said, calling the petition an effort “to humiliate and embarrass Judge Lovell and his family.”

Kane wrote that the allegations are unrelated to indictments charging Lovell with shooting at parked vehicles in Austin, Texas, in September and at his brother-in-law’s home in Bison, Oklahoma, in February 2023.

Jones said Lovell denies committing any crime in the shooting in Oklahoma where he faces a preliminary hearing in August.

Lovell’s attorney in Austin, where he is due for a pre-trial hearing in July, did not respond to a telephone call seeking comment.

Lovell has not been presiding over cases since his arrest in Austin.

 

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