KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) –
Frustrated by the secretive way the state of Missouri deals with complaints against judges, Kansas City attorney Michelle Puckett is calling for transparency and revealing the contents of two complaints filed against 43rd judicial circuit court judge Brent Elliot.
When most citizens stand before a judge, the proceedings happen in open court. Judges are treated differently; with closed-door hearings in front of a six-member Commission on Retirement, Removal and Discipline. The only time this panel can make details of these cases public as after misconduct is found or a judge under investigation gives the commission permission to talk. It is a process Puckett says is long overdue for change.
“I don’t think any type of secrecy in something this important, confidence in our judicial system, should ever be tolerated,” Puckett said. “It should be open. It should be public. And I, as a complainant, should have the right to review. It’s an important issue.”
Puckett’s strong feelings stem from her experiences with two separate complaints filed against Elliot.
The first followed a strange exchange made during an otherwise ordinary divorce court proceeding in January 2012. According to the transcript, opposing council Stephen Griffin asked Elliot to allow a last-minute witness.
Puckett objected saying, “this young lady was not listed as a witness.”
Griffin responded, “I wanted to see what she looked like to see if this was somebody that the guy would want to spend all his time with.”
“Good call,” Elliot said.
The judge overruled Puckett’s objection and allowed the witness to testify.
Offended by that comment, Puckett’s client decided to file a complaint against Elliot for sexist behavior. Puckett says she knew nothing about the complaint.
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KC attorney wants equal justice for judges discipline process