Kentucky family court judge W. Mitchell Nance is a devout man, on and off the bench.
He requires everyone in his courtoom to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance before each day's calendar is called.
He opposes divorce, even though that's his job and he has been well-paid for it since he was first elected in 2000. USA Today found,
Even in uncontested divorces involving no children, he makes the parties appear in court, offers them condolences on the demise of their marriage and makes them explain why it didn’t work out.
Attorneys say he also asked divorce litigants where they go to church and whether they are a true believer.He likes to play social scientist, too:
"I am convinced that we have in Kentucky, and certainly in Barren and Metcalfe counties and quite frankly, in the United States as a whole, a cultural and legal problem, which must be addressed by our lawmakers." Nance said."We've got to recognize whenever the core social institution disintegrates there are far reaching consequences in every area of society."
The origin of child abuse is, in his opinion, "the disintegrating household."
"Culturally and legally we have been turning our backs on the institution of marriage for about 40 to 50 years," he said, adding that if society can discover the merit of marriage and take the steps to shore it up, over a long period of time, the number of child abuse cases reported will decrease. "We can talk about secondary and tertiary factors all we want to, but if we want to get to the primary factor ... (it is) contempt for the institution of marriage."Judge Nance imagines himself a very, very, powerful man:
In 2013, after the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) dismissed his family court administrator, Nance filed for a writ enjoining the AOC to cease and desist from unlawful interference with his powers as appointing authority for the employees in his office as a circuit family court judge. The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled against him.Nance liked his admin. Everybody else thought she ran the court by creating a constant fog of fear. Nance wanted her back. Now, it seems, he terrorizes litigants himself.
When Judge Nance announced his 2014 re-election bid, he said,
I remain committed to do my best to continue to earn the public’s respect for our Family Court and to make equal justice under law a reality for all our families.But now he has changed his mind:
The Courier-Journal reports Judge Mitchell Nance issued an order Thursday saying he believes that "under no circumstance" would "the best interest of the child be promoted by the adoption by a practicing homosexual."
Nance cited an ethical rule that says judges must disqualify themselves when they have a personal bias or prejudice.
The newspaper couldn't reach Nance for comment because he was on the bench. In his order, he said lawyers representing gay people in adoptions in Barren and Metcalfe counties would have to request a special judge.Judge Nance told the local newspaper today:
As for past cases that involved gay parents, Nance — who was initially assigned to family court in 2004 — said he could remember two.
There was a case involving gay parents attempting to adopt a child several years ago in which Nance recused himself from ruling on the motion, he said.
According to Nance, who did not name the specific case, he initially declined to recuse himself from the case when first asked, but later reconsidered and another judge was assigned.
About two to three months ago, Nance said a case in Metcalfe County he was assigned to involved gay parents who were seeking to adopt. Nance said he ruled in favor of the parents, but decided then he should take action to recuse himself permanently from hearing such cases.
"It made the matter come to my awareness more directly, I would say. I felt it would be more prudent to go ahead and address it," he said.
Nance cites Kentucky Code of Judicial Conduct sections in his order regarding personal bias and prejudice. He also cited U.S. Supreme Court and Kentucky Supreme Court cases involving recusal for personal bias.
Nance performs marriages, but said he has never been asked to marry a gay couple. If he were asked, Nance said he would decline to perform the marriage rights.Here's the text of the judge's order.
Just wait until everyone can do this sort of thing under the federal legislation the President has promised to sign.