Kentucky judge removed from teacher ‘sickout’ case

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In this March 7, 2019 file photo, hundreds of teachers fill the Kentucky Capitol in Frankfort, Ky. A legal fight in Kentucky over subpoenas sent to school districts as part of an investigation into teacher sickouts has expanded to include which court should hear the case. State Labor Cabinet attorneys filed a notice of removal to have the case shifted to federal court, Friday, May 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Adam Beam, file)

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s chief justice has removed a judge from hearing a lawsuit challenging the authority of Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration to investigate teacher protests.

Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. on Friday disqualified circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd from presiding over the case brought by Bevin’s rival, Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear. Beshear is challenging Bevin in this year’s race for governor.

Bevin’s legal team sought Judge Shepherd’s removal from the case because the judge “liked” a Facebook post showing a photo of a Democratic lawmaker with a Beshear campaign volunteer.

Bevin’s lawyers said that raised questions about the judge’s impartiality.

Minton said he’s sure Shepherd would have presided in an unbiased manner, but says the standard for disqualification was met. Minton says the matter is a “cautionary tale” for judges who use social media.

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(This story was originally published on Sept. 27, 2019)

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