|Additional charges filed against Judge Beth Maze
By Tom Marshall
Senior Advocate writer
New allegations of misconduct have been made against Montgomery County Circuit Judge Beth Maze by the state’s Judicial Conduct Commission.
The commission filed a second amended notice of formal proceedings and charges against the judge Oct. 18.
The allegations made in the notice focus on the judge’s interest in whether the confidential informants involved in a large criminal syndicate case were the same as those involved in a criminal cases against her ex-husband, Donald “Champ” Maze.
The notice alleges that earlier this year the Bath County Grand Jury returned indictments against more than 100 individuals for drug trafficking.
These cases are commonly referred to as “syndicate cases,” the notice states.
This network of drug trafficking cases was reportedly separated into four separate groups, or “syndicates” to account for individual cases, co-defendants and companion cases, according to the notice.
May 22, Judge Maze, fellow circuit judge William “Bill” Lane, Commonwealth’s Attorney Ronnie Goldy and head of the local office of the Dept. for Public Advocacy (public defender’s office) Charles Landon reportedly met to discuss a strategy for handling of the syndicate cases, the notice states.
The notice alleges that in the interests of fairness and efficiency, it was agreed that Judge Maze would preside over two syndicates and Judge Lane would preside over the two other syndicates.
Each judge, the notice alleges, also agreed to set a special docket June 14 to address the syndicate cases.
That morning, however, the notice alleges that in contravention of the agreement, Judge Maze directed that all the syndicate cases be transferred to her division.
The notice alleges that on numerous occasions between May 22 and June 14, Judge Maze made inquiries regarding the confidential informants (CIs) involved in these drug trafficking cases.
The notice also alleges that the judge initiated ex parte, or private, communications with attorneys, staff and law enforcement officers to inquire whether or not the CIs in the syndicate cases were the CIs involved in the criminal cases against her ex-husband.
These actions, the notice alleges, constitute misconduct in office.
The notice alleges that Judge Maze violated four cannons of the Code of Judicial Conduct.
Those include a canon that requires judges to respect and comply with the law and act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.
A second canon Judge Maze is alleged to have violated prohibits judges from using the prestige of the judicial office to advance the personal or economic interests of the judge or others.
The third canon Judge Maze is alleged to have violated prohibits a judge from allowing family, social, political, financial or other interests or relationships to influence the judge’s judicial conduct or judgement.
Finally, the fourth cannon allegedly violated prohibits judges from engaging in ex parte communications.
In May, the commission charged Judge Maze with violating ethics rules by reportedly signing orders to help Champ Maze by having drug tests performed after he was arrested on a number drug-related charges in September 2017.
Judge Maze had reportedly contacted officials, including District Judge William “Willie” Roberts about the arrest.
Judge Maze has denied any efforts to help her ex-husband.
Then, Sept. 10, the commission filed an amended notice of formal proceedings and charges.
The notice alleged that she signed the names of the Commonwealth Attorney and Bath County attorney allowing for the drug tests without their knowledge. In another case, Judge Maze reportedly signed the name of Morehead attorney Michael Campbell on a court order, the commission charged.
Judge Maze claims that she inadvertently completed the orders in the same manner she completed other orders that were on a different AOC (Administrative Office of the Courts) form order.
The two AOC forms differ on the information contained in the lower left corner.
Judge Maze claims she got the orders mixed up when she took them home in June 2011 during the course of a move to the new judicial center in Rowan County.
The conduct commission charged that the alleged violations constituted misconduct in office and several canons of judicial conduct.
Judge Maze agreed to a suspension from her duties Sept. 24.
Monday, Champ Maze was formally sentenced to one year in jail and five years probation after he entered an Alford plea to the 2017 drug charges.
At his sentencing hearing, Champ Maze thanked Special Judge David Hagerman of Boyd County for previous remarks in the case in which he spoke favorably of Judge Maze’s character.
This was the same case in which the charges against Judge Maze are based.
An Alford plea is where a defendant does not admit to a criminal act, but believes the prosecution has enough evidence to convince a court of conviction.
Champ Maze pleaded guilty to vote buying charges in 2007 and served time in federal prison. He was also disbarred from practicing law.
At the time of the incident Champ Maze was serving as Bath County attorney.
The range of penalties the conduct commission can consider for Judge Maze go from admonishment to removal from office.
The commission has scheduled a hearing on the charges for Dec. 3 in Lexington.
Maze has served as the chief circuit judge for the 21st Judicial Circuit that includes Montgomery, Menifee, Bath and Rowan counties.