WICHITA, Kan. – A foul-mouthed Kansas judge who cursed at courthouse employees so often that a trial clerk kept a “swear journal” documenting his outbursts should be publicly censured and receive professional coaching, but not kicked off the bench, a disciplinary panel recommended Friday.
The Kansas Commission on Judicial Conduct unanimously concluded that Montgomery County Judge F. William Cullins violated central judicial canons of independence, integrity and impartiality. Its recommendations will be sent to the Kansas Supreme Court, which will ultimately decide his fate.
An admonishment or a “cease and desist” order was not sufficient discipline, the panel concluded. It also recommended that Cullins complete at least a year or two of professional coaching to improve his interpersonal interactions, and that if he failed to complete it then the Supreme Court should suspend him from his judicial duties.
His attorney, Chris Joseph, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. Cullins had argued during the disciplinary proceedings that his speech is protected by the First Amendment and that his cursing does not diminish his integrity or keep him from performing his judicial duties with impartiality and competence.
Cullins' use of foul, derogatory words directed at women manifested a clear bias based on sex — violating judicial rules that prohibit bias, prejudice and harassment, the panel found.
“Intentionally gender-based derogatory references toward women have no place in the administration of justice, and have no place in a judge's vernacular,” according to the decision.
It also addressed an instance in which Cullins was recorded in court referring to an out-of-state black athlete as “not even a Kansas boy” and telling a black male resident, “you're a Kansas boy" — language that could be considered demeaning to an African American man.
Although the panel found credible Cullins' testimony that he used the word “boy” as a term of geographic origin and not as a racial derision, it said the term could be interpreted as bias and therefore violated judicial rules. It noted that the prosecutor apologized for the judge's conduct to the father of one of the defendants.