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Judge Can't Get Social Media Right

By William Vogeler, Esq. on June 15, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Judge Sandra L. McLaughlin has a problem controlling her words.

For years, the Kentucky judge has been known as the worst in Louisville because of her inappropriate remarks from the bench. Maybe she thinks she's funny, but nobody's laughing.

Now an ethics commission has reprimanded McLaughlin for comments she made on social media. She deleted the post, but not fast enough.

No More Commentary, Please

McLaughlin shared a news story about a pending case on her Facebook page. She added this comment: "This murder suspect was RELEASED FROM JAIL just hours after killing a man and confessing to police."

The judge apparently didn't consider that the man may have ACTED IN SELF-DEFENSE. Of course, the facts didn't really matter in McLAUGHlin's court of public opinion.

It mattered to the judicial conduct commission, however. The agency decided she engaged in judicial misconduct by violating judicial canons that say judges should:

  • Maintain the integrity and independence of the judiciary
  • Promote public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary
  • Refrain from making public comments about pending matters

McLaughlin stipulated to the public reprimand. Time will tell whether she actually gets it.

Historical Commentary

The commission didn't mention it, but perhaps it was McLaughlin's historical commentary that led to the public reprimand. It started five years ago.

In one case, a man appeared in her court on drug charges. But his real crime, apparently, was his Barack Obama t-shirt.

"Did you see his t-shirt? Barack Obama, 'Let's Do It Again,' she said on the courtroom video. "That was a double-whammy."

She added: "He's lucky to get out of here alive." So was the judge -- from the judicial conduct commission.

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