EXCLUSIVE: Judge speaks out on ethics accusations, resignation

Local News

UPDATE:

Judge Chris Kaminski said he will be stepping down from his position as a Coffee County District Judge ahead of accusations from the Judiciary Inquiry Commission.

According to a personal communication sent to WDHN, the former judge made the decision as fighting it was not “financially feasible,” possibly costing him around $100,000 in the legal process.

Kaminski said he was not under fire for any type of bias against parties in the court.

“They don’t accuse me of being unfair,” he said. “I’ve never been unfair to anyone in my court.”

He also said that count three, the accusation concerning dishonesty toward the commission, was dismissed through a signed agreement.”

“This is what I had to make this stop.”

His resignation was effective Tuesday at 5 p.m.

ORIGINAL REPORT:

ENTERPRISE, Ala. (WDHN) — A Coffee County judge was charged with multiple ethical violations in a 28-page report Tuesday.

According to a complaint signed by Chairman Billy Bedsole, District Judge Chris Kaminski’s behavior committed several violations of the Alabama Canons of Judicial Ethics involving his relationship with an attorney.

Kaminski began his tenure as a district judge back on May 14, 2015, after getting appointed to the position by Gov. Robert Bentley, winning the position later on in the 2016 elections. After obtaining the position, he presided over cases concerning criminal, civil and juvenile subjects.

However, on June 2, 2017, he struck up a romantic relationship with a female attorney — one the commission believes still continues to this day.

The commission states that during this time, Kaminski appointed the attorney to certain cases, took actions in said cases, entering attorney’s fee declarations on her behalf and did not remove himself from cases where she was involved as an attorney of record.

In total, Kaminski appointed the attorney to a case 24 times. He also approved 47 fee declarations, granting the attorney money in cases where the defendants could not pay.

“In many of the cases pending after Judge Kaminski and the attorney discontinued attempting to keep their relationship secret, Judge Kaminski still did not disqualify,” the complaint reads. “Instead, the attorney filed motions to withdraw and, although Judge Kaminski was plainly disqualified in from taking any action in each case, he granted her motions and continued to preside in those cases.”

In addition to his actions in court, the complaint also accuses Kaminski of being dishonest to the Commission while under investigation.

Kaminski issued a response on Nov. 28, 2018, which said that while he acknowledged that there were rumors of an affair with the attorney, he denied them wholeheartedly. He said that he did not start dating the attorney until after his divorce from his wife Megan.

Court records show that the Kaminskis filed for divorce on Dec. 21, 2017, but as previously stated, the Commission found evidence that the relationship actually began the previous June.

Kaminski had asked Coffee County deputy Craig Victor, who is responsible for the courthouse’s security, to access the system. Victor then informed his supervisor and Sheriff Dave Sutton of the request. Kaminski eventually got his wish, making a copy of the footage.

Finally, the complaint also states that Kaminski wrongfully gave the attorney access to footage to disprove rumors of “inappropriate behavior” around his ex-wife that allegedly took place during then-newly appointed Circuit Clerk Amy Reeves’ celebration inside the courthouse.

“Judge Kaminski shared the copied surveillance footage with the attorney, who then disseminated it via social media,” the complaint states.

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