Nebraska lawmaker seeks disbarment of former justice
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A Nebraska senator says he plans to seek the disbarment of a former state Supreme Court judge who recently resigned after a judicial ethics complaint.
Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha submitted a letter to the high court’s chief justice on Monday regarding Max Kelch. Anyone who isn’t fit to retain a seat on the high court also isn’t fit to retain a license to practice law, Chambers said.
A judicial ethics complaint remains confidential until a commission uncovers probable cause for discipline. Kelch resigned Feb. 15 before that could happen, stating that he was doing what was best for his family. He’d been on the court for less than two years.
The public should be made aware of Kelch’s conduct during the two years he served on the court, Chambers said.
“My guiding premise is that the public has a right to be informed of the facts surrounding actions by its servants, whom their tax dollars pay,” Chambers wrote. Kelch had an annual salary of $172,000 as a judge.
Failing to disclose the details undermines faith in the judiciary’s integrity, he said.
“While routinely pronouncing judgments on others throughout society, the judiciary must be willing to turn the searchlight of scrutiny on itself,” Chambers wrote.
Kelch declined to comment to the Omaha World-Herald on the issue.
“I’m just going to deal with what’s in front of me,” Kelch said.
Chambers said he’s prepared to file a grievance with the Supreme Court’s Counsel for Discipline. The counsel could dismiss the case or recommend actions including reprimands to disbarment.