Judge quits amid claims of prejudice on social media

A state judicial oversight commission announced Wednesday that a town justice in Schoharie County has resigned after an investigation into alleged discriminatory posts on social media "and other misconduct."

The state Commission on Judicial Conduct said in a media release that it notified Kenneth C. Knutsen, who served as a Schoharie Town Court justice and an associate justice in Schoharie Village Court, in April that it was investigating complaints that Knutsen had made homophobic and Islamophobic posts on Facebook, along with "partisan political content" and "expressions of bias in favor of law enforcement and against criminal defendants." The posts included "prohibited public commentary on pending cases, including the murder trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin," according to the release.

Knutsen was scheduled to testify regarding the claims on May 26, but instead resigned and "agreed never to seek or accept judicial office at any time in the future," the release said.

“Public confidence in the integrity of the courts requires judges to avoid even the appearance of bias," commission administrator Robert Tembeckjian said in the release. "Social media posts that exhibit anti-LGBTQ, anti-Muslim, pro-police or other biases are abhorrent and inimical to the role of a judge. In these circumstances, Judge Knutsen’s departure from office is warranted.”

Knutsen, who is not a lawyer, had served in the positions since 2002, the release said. Documents related to the case can be viewed at cjc.ny.gov

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