On Monday, January 1, 2024, KOAM News Now reported that Judge F. William Cullins of Montgomery County, Kansas had been issued a cease and desist letter by the Kansas Commission on Judicial Conduct. The commission found that Judge Cullins violated state judicial ethics rules during his 2022 re-election campaign.
According to the report, an Independence attorney had filed a complaint accusing Judge Cullins of improperly trying to influence a local judicial race that year. Specifically, Judge Cullins was alleged to have solicited campaign funds and made contributions to other candidates, which would be unlawful according to judicial conduct standards. This was in relation to a phone call Judge Cullins had made to the attorney who was running against him in the Republican primary.
While Judge Cullins and the attorney had differing accounts of their conversation, it was established that the judge’s retirement benefits were dependent on serving eight more years on the bench. Facing the risk of losing these benefits if he lost re-election, Judge Cullins reportedly proposed providing financial support and campaign donations to the attorney in exchange for the attorney switching to a newly opened judicial position instead.
After reviewing the complaint, the Kansas Commission on Judicial Conduct unanimously found that Judge Cullins’ actions on this matter violated ethical rules regarding political activity and impartiality. As a result, the cease and desist order mandated that Judge Cullins refrain from any further prohibited solicitation of funds or contributions targeting other candidates.
The report also noted this was not the first time Judge Cullins had faced scrutiny, having received a previous 60-day suspension in 2021 for other alleged misconduct.
Source: KOAM News Now