Kentucky Judge Steven D. Combs in Pike County has been temporarily suspended after an array of charges of bizarre comments and actions, including calling officials such names as “Fishface,” “cokehead,” and “Dumbo.” Worst yet, he threatened to put a “bullet in the head” of the next police officer who pulled him over. A temporary suspension until resolution of the 10 charges seems quite modest punishment but his counsel, Stephen Ryan, still conveyed Combs’ “disappointment” with the action taken by the Judicial Conduct Commission.
The complaint detailed Combs use of various, less-than-flattering ways of referring to other people like “Fishface,” “cokehead,” “dumbo,” “retarded,” “coward” and “prick. ” — use of those words has led to the temporary suspension of a Pike County circuit judge.
Combs is accused of conflicts of interest in cases, inappropriate communications, inappropriate political activity, soliciting contributions from attorneys in cases before him, and other violations. One of the most interesting is that he allegedly made inappropriate statements on the gossip website Topix under usernames including “LOL,” “Better Call Wusty,” “Imma Tellinyou,” and “City Hall Patrol.”
That last allegation is problematic and goes again to the right of public employees to engage in social media, particularly when using an alias.
One of the worst charges concerns the alleged statement of Combs that the next officer who pulled him over would get a “bullet in the head.” When confronted by police over the statement, he allegedly replied “I’m elected by the people and not pieces of trash like you-all.”
Combs, who has been a judge since 2003, is paid $124,620 annually.