In re Inquiry of Honorable Judge Michael KwanAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Court sanctioned Judge Michael Kwan to a six-month suspension without pay for Kwan's violations of the Utah Code of Judicial Conduct, holding that a six-month suspension was an appropriate sanction.
Judge Kwan violated the Utah Code of Judicial Conduct when he made politically charged comments to a defendant in his courtroom and when he improperly used his judicial authority to seek the removal of a member of the court's staff from the premises. Kwan further violated the code of conduct when he made an online post critical of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. The Judicial Conduct Commission recommended a six-month suspension. Judge Kwan argued that the sanction was inappropriate because it was an unlawful attempt to regulate his constitutionally-protected speech. The Supreme Court concluded that a six-month suspension without pay was appropriate, holding (1) a judicial disciplinary proceeding is an improper venue to press Judge Kwan's constitutional claims, and, bound by precedent, this Court declines to address the constitutional questions; and (2) Judge Kwan's online speech that he conceded the Court could permissibly sanction, combined with the other misconduct, warranted the six-month suspension.