Today, the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission released documents pertaining to its investigation of Pike Circuit Judge Steven D. Combs. The commission has formally charged Combs with 10 counts of misconduct. After Combs refuted the allegations yesterday, the commission released its findings today, paving the way for a formal hearing on the charges.
Count one of the charges alleges that Combs made direct contact with EQT Production officials, accusing them of fraud and demanding gravel on his property, all while presiding over a case involving the company. Count two alleges a number of inappropriate communications with the Pikeville Police Department, during which the judge allegedly ridiculed and criticized officers and the chief. At one point Combs is alleged to have said the next officer to pull him over would get a “bullet in the head.”
Count three details numerous alleged inappropriate interactions with Pikeville city officials, including calling the Pikeville Mayor “Fishface,” the City Manager “Dumbo,” and a commissioner “Cokehead.” Count four details complaints made against Pike TV, allegedly threatening to have the station’s license pulled.
Count five alleges Combs left disparaging voicemails for Sen. Ray Jones, demanding that he return his call. Count six accuses Combs of engaging in inappropriate political activity. Those allegations include accusing the city manager of supporting a particular candidate for magistrate, requesting a golf cart permit for a mayoral candidate, chastising Sen. Jones for having a mayor candidate’s sign in his yard, criticizing UMG owner Greg May for supporting city candidates, and asking the Sheriff to attend a fundraiser for a mayoral candidate.
Count seven details a number of disparaging posts on the Topix website, allegedly made by Combs. Those posts include allegations and insults directed at Pikeville police and city officials. Count eight accuses Combs of continuing to preside over a case two months after the plaintiff voluntarily dismissed it. During that time, Combs allegedly made inappropriate accusations against and communications with attorneys in the case.
Count nine notes that Combs continued to preside over a case about the 2014 Pikeville City Commission election, despite having an alleged interest in the race. In that case, Combs disqualified Gene Davis as a candidate. And count ten accuses Combs of soliciting donations for a high school golf team from attorneys practicing in his courtroom.
In his response, Combs denies most of the allegations, although he does admit expressing concerns to city officials about some issues and fully admits the allegations regarding the Sen. Jones voicemails. The commission is now expected to set a formal hearing in the case.
If Combs is found in violation, he could face any number of punishments, ranging from admonishment to removal. A link to the full copy of the charges and Combs’ answer can be found at http://courts.ky.gov/commissionscommittees/JCC/Documents/Public_Information/formalproceedingsCombs.pdf. We reached out to Judge Combs’ office for comment, but they declined.