On Monday, March 4, 2024, Colorado Politics reported that the Colorado Supreme Court publicly censured former Adams County District Court Judge Robert W. Kiesnowski Jr. for repeatedly misusing his position as a judge.

According to the report, while still serving as a judge, Kiesnowski improperly acted as the attorney for his brother-in-law, Jesse Lee Vaughn, during a criminal investigation into domestic violence allegations against Vaughn. In June 2023, Vaughn was recovering from injuries in a Lakewood hospital when an investigator arrived to interview him about the case. Kiesnowski called the investigator prior and shared details of the encounter from Vaughn’s perspective.

The next day, when the investigator returned to the hospital to speak with Vaughn, Kiesnowski asserted that he could advise his brother-in-law without violating conduct rules. Kiesnowski proceeded to sit in on the interrogation. During the interview, court records state that Kiesnowski invoked Vaughn’s Fourth Amendment rights to stop the investigator from searching his phone. He also raised Vaughn’s right against self-incrimination and told him to respond that “you do not recall.” Additionally, Kiesnowski inserted his own negative views of the alleged victim in the case.

This event occurred only weeks before Kiesnowski was already scheduled to resign from his judgeship due to a prior disciplinary case involving retaliating against a judicial assistant. However, authorities only learned of Kiesnowski’s actions regarding his brother-in-law after the resignation went into effect. A panel of three judges serving as special masters held a hearing on the matter and found that Kiesnowski’s behavior constituted misconduct.

In their ruling, the Supreme Court said Kiesnowski was aware he could have simply advised Vaughn not to speak with investigators, but instead deliberately used his title to improperly insert himself into an active criminal investigation. As a result, the court found Kiesnowski had abused his position and undermined public trust in the judiciary. For these actions, the high court affirmed the censure issued against the former judge.

 

 

Source: Colorado Politics