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A Utah judge who openly disparaged President Donald Trump in the courtroom and on social media is now facing the consequences of his actions.
The Supreme Court of Utah has upheld a six-month suspension without pay for Taylorsville Justice Court Judge Michael Kwan.
In a ruling last week, Utah’s Supreme Court determined Kwan undermined public confidence in the judiciary for “improper use of judicial authority and his inappropriate political commentary.” Kwan criticized Trump, both on social media and in his courtroom, before and after the 2016 election.
Three days after the 2016 election, Kwan wrote on Facebook, “Think I’ll go to the shelter to adopt a cat before the President-Elect grabs them all” — a reference to the “Access Hollywood” tape in which Trump was heard bragging about grabbing women’s genitals without consent.
Almost a month after Trump’s inauguration, Kwan said “welcome to the beginning of the fascist takeover” and questioned whether Congressional Republicans would be “the American Reichstag,” this time referring to the political body of Nazi Germany.
Kwan also disparaged Trump in 2017 when a defendant voiced hope that Trump would follow through on his promise to implement tax reform.
Kwan defended his actions before the Utah Supreme Court, characterizing his comments as “constitutionally protected speech.” However, the court vehemently disagreed.
“Fulfillment of judicial duties does not come without personal sacrifice of some opportunities and privileges available to the public at large,” the court wrote. “And as a person the public entrusts to decide issues with the utmost fairness, independence, and impartiality, a judge must at times set aside the power of his or her voice.”
Ultimately, the court dismissed each of Kwan’s defenses and upheld the stiff reprimand because the judge “has been the subject of prior discipline and the recipient of prior guidance.”
“Judge Kwan’s behavior denigrates his reputation as an impartial, independent, dignified, and courteous jurist who takes no advantage of the office in which he serves,” the court said. “And it diminishes the reputation of our entire judiciary.”