Henderson County Family Court Judge David Curlin has filed a motion with the Kentucky Supreme Court to set aside an indefinite suspension so he can return to the bench.
The state Supreme Court issued an opinion and order on Sept. 29 that indefinitely suspended him from practicing law. The court cited his failure to respond to complaints from both the court and the Kentucky Bar Association as reasons for the suspension.
In his Oct. 10 motion filed with the state Supreme Court, Curlin claimed that he did not know how to respond to complaints nor who to ask for help, that he had been diagnosed with ADHD and his inability to obtain ADHD medication caused carelessness in dealing with two clients, who later filed complaints against him.
Six days after Curlin’s motion, the Kentucky Bar Association filed a response with the state Supreme Court, asking that it deny his request. The KBA said in their filing that the judge’s claims that he didn’t understand the disciplinary process or who to ask for help are “without merit.”
“He received written guidance at every procedural point in the disciplinary process,” the KBA response said. And the argument that he didn’t know who to ask or how to proceed “quite simply does not hold water.”
It also stated that he received information letting him know that attorneys who’ve had complaints lodged against them could receive disciplinary action if they do not respond.
“Despite being served complaints by the sheriff, Respondent did nothing,” the motion filed by KBA said.
The KBA said that Curlin failed to respond to a KBA motion in February and a later order from the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court again sent an order in April to which Curlin responded.
In August, the Supreme Court denied the KBA’s request to indefinitely suspend Curlin, but it did order him to answer to each charge against him within 30 days.
Again, Curlin didn’t respond. And on Sept. 29, the Supreme Court indefinitely suspended him.
Of Curlin’s excuse that he couldn’t obtain ADHD medication, the KBA said he didn’t provide any physician documentation, and “…it does not explain or excuse his failure to participate in the proceedings.”
The KBA said Curlin has the wherewithal to “apparently” run a successful courtroom and also ran a successful candidacy to be elected as judge. “The KBA submits that Respondent was more than able to participate in these proceedings. He simply chose not to.”
Curlin’s Oct. 10 motion to set aside indefinite suspension centered around his ADHD diagnosis and an inability to get medication during the time of the incidents that led to client complaints.
“Judge Curlin genuinely believes that his ADHD, and problems with the availability of the medication over the last several years, was a likely contributing factor in him not properly addressing the KBA proceedings and the proceedings before the court,” said Curlin’s motion, which was submitted by his attorney, Peter Ostermiller of Louisville.
Curlin’s motion said that from January 2022 to August 2022 he was unable to refill his medication. One complaint was made in March 2022 and another was made in May 2022, according to the motion.
“While it could be coincidence, although not likely, the Bar Complaints…were submitted to the KBA during the time the ADHD medication was unavailable to Judge Curlin,” the motion said.
In the Oct. 10 filing, Curlin also said that he “genuinely did not understand the KBA disciplinary process” and he didn’t know anyone “who had a similar experience in dealing with the KBA in disciplinary cases.”
Curlin hired Ostermiller on Oct. 3. Curlin will address the previous complaints (see separate story for details) in the next three weeks, according to the motion. He will also address an additional attorney disciplinary proceeding that was returned in June and has not yet been mentioned in the previous filings related to the judge’s indefinite suspension, the motion said.
Also a part of Curlin’s motion to set aside indefinite suspension are three affidavits obtained from two attorneys and a court-appointed special advocate. All praised Curlin’s job performance and humanity.
“I agreed to write this affidavit as I feel that Judge Curlin is a good person with a good heart, and has been a good judge,” wrote Allison Rust, a local attorney who practices family law. “I believe the people of Henderson County want him to continue in this position as do I. This is not a job that many seek for the right reasons, but I believe he has done so and hope this is taken into consideration in this matter.”