Judge suspended after Facebook posts about Zachary Hammond lawsuit

zachary-hammond

SENECA, SC (WSPA) – Kenneth E. Johns has been suspended by the SC Supreme court for comments made about the Zachary Hammond wrongful death lawsuit against Seneca.

The decision by the SC Supreme Court says that Johns admits misconduct and will serve the suspension for six months, retroactively from April 12, 2016.

That is the date of his interim suspension.

WHAT HAPPENED?

The parents of Zachary Hammond filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Seneca Police after their son was shot and killed by an officer.

The case was settled for $2,150,000.

Johns posted his opinion about the settlement on Facebook:

“Ind the end it’s all about the money. Always. Unfortunately, I see it EVERYDAY.”

He later added “Once ck is in hand, they’ll disappear,” according to the court ruling.

The court order also says Johns has made extensive political posts, including those that appear to endorse the presidential candidacy of one candidate.

They say he also engaged in fundraising for a local church on Facebook.

The order says that Johns regrets his conduct with regard to the Hammond estate and is sorry for any distress that it may have caused the family.

He says he recognizes that, while he didn’t mention the estate by name, it was inappropriate for him to make the statement as it would be clear in the community to what he was referring.

He says he also recognizes it was inappropriate for him to make political posts and to post information about the fundraiser.

WHAT RULES DID HE BREAK?

The order says Johns admits that by his conduct he has violated the following provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct:

Rule 501, SCACR: Canon 1 (judge shall uphold integrity and independence of judiciary);

Section 1A of Canon 1 (judge should participate in establishing, maintaining and enforcing high standards of conduct, and shall personally observe those standards so that integrity and independence of judiciary will be preserved);

Canon 2 (judge shall avoid impropriety and appearance of impropriety in all judge’s activities);

Section 2A of Canon 2 (judge shall respect and comply with the law and shall act at all times in manner that promotes public confidence in integrity and impartiality of judiciary);

Section A(1) of Canon 4 (judge shall conduct all of judge’s extra-judicial activities so that they do not cast reasonable doubt on the judge’s capacity to act impartially as judge);

Section A(2) of Canon 4 (judge shall conduct all of judge’s extra-judicial activities so that they do not demean the judicial office);

Section C(3)(b)(i) of Canon 4 (judge shall not personally participate in the solicitation of funds or other fundraising activities); and Section A(1)(b) of Canon 5 (judge shall not publicly endorse candidate for election to public office).

Johns also admits he has violated the following Rules for Judicial Disciplinary Enforcement, Rule 502, SCACR: Rules 7(a)(1) (it shall be ground for discipline for judge to violate Code of Judicial Conduct) and Rule 7(a)(9) (it shall be ground for sanction for judge to violate Judge’s Oath of Office contained in Rule 502.1, SCACR).

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