Henderson Family Court Judge David Curlin’s license to practice law has been indefinitely suspended by the Kentucky Supreme Court, according to an order filed by the court on Friday.
“Since Curlin is suspended from the practice of law in this Commonwealth, he is temporarily disqualified to serve as the Family Court judge for the 51st Judicial Circuit, Henderson County, without affecting his pay status,” said the order signed by Chief Justice Laurence B. VanMeter.
Retired Henderson County Family Court Judge Sheila Farris has been appointed to provide coverage, said Jamie Neal, a public information specialist with the Administrative Office of the Courts in Frankfort.
Reached Monday morning, Curlin said he could not comment.
“At this time, I can not comment on pending litigation,” he said in a text message to the Hendersonian.
The suspension went into effect on Saturday, said the order.
The suspension comes because Curlin failed to respond to charges and complaints from the Kentucky Bar Association, and later didn’t respond to orders from the Supreme Court, according to the order.
On Feb. 23, the bar association asked the Supreme Court to indefinitely suspend Curlin, “because he had failed to answer a Charge issued by the Inquiry Commission in two separate disciplinary cases.”
Both complaints were related to legal work prior to his election as family court judge, the order said.
Later, after he signed for the charges at the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office, he still didn’t respond to the bar association, the order said.
Then, the state Supreme Court—on March 10 and again April 14—ordered Curlin to prove why he shouldn’t be suspended from practicing law.
On April 25, Curlin responded that he hadn’t received the bar association’s motions or the March 10 Supreme Court document because of the “hasty closure of his law office and a change in his employment address due to his recent election as judge.”
He said he would have responded if he’d known about them and said he intended to do so, the order said.
On Aug. 24, the court denied the bar association’s request that Curlin be indefinitely suspended, but it did order Curlin to answer to each of the charges against him by Sept. 25.
The order suspending him, signed Friday, Sept. 29, said the court never received Curlin’s response.
The order said that though Curlin is a sitting judge, he is still a licensed lawyer.
“His judicial position does not inoculate him from compliance with disciplinary rules that governed his conduct prior to his election,” the order said.
Curt Hamilton, the president of the Henderson Bar Association, told the Hendersonian that lawyers have an ethical duty to respond to charges and complaints.
“Regardless of the merits, you still need to respond,” he said.
It’s important to note, Hamilton said, that the suspension is not criminal in any way.
“We wish Judge Curlin well and hopes he gets this resolved quickly,” Hamilton said. “By all accounts, he’s been a good judge.”
Curlin is in his first year on the bench. He won election in November 2022 and started as family judge in January.