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Nome judge faces hearing over alleged ethics violations

  • Author: Laurel Andrews
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published May 26, 2015

Nome Superior Court Judge Timothy Dooley has been accused of violating the Alaska Code of Judicial Conduct for making multiple statements that "indicated insensitivity" toward victims, witnesses and other parties during court proceedings, according to a complaint filed Tuesday with the Commission on Judicial Conduct.

The investigation into Dooley's conduct was "the result of a few anonymous complaints" received by the agency, said Marla Greenstein, executive director of the commission.

Dooley was appointed Nome Superior Court Judge by former Gov. Sean Parnell in March 2013, according to a 2013 KNOM profile of the judge where he told the station that he had wanted to live in Nome for years.

The first of the statements he is accused of making came just months after being appointed as judge in the Northwest Alaska community.

The statements taken from recorded court proceedings and listed in the complaint are as follows:

• On May 29, 2013, Dooley said during a sentencing, "Has anything good ever come out of drinking other than sex with a pretty girl?"

• On Oct. 29, 2013, during a sentencing, Dooley said, "What you've done with this young girl, it's a strange thing, routinely done in Afghanistan where they marry 6-year-old girls. In our society, and in the society of the local tribal communities, supposed to be totally forbidden."

• On Nov. 5, 2013, Dooley said during a sentencing, where the victim was a 14-year-old girl, "This was not someone who was, and I hate to use the phrase, 'asking for it.' There are girls out there that seem to be temptresses. And this does not seem to be anything like that."

• On Aug. 12, 2014, Dooley said during a civil trial involving parties that did not have attorneys that, "I'm gonna enforce these oaths and they're enforceable with a two-year sentence for perjury. And I'd be the sentencing judge. I also have a medieval Christianity that says if you violate an oath, you're going to hell. You all may not share that, but I'm planning to populate hell."

• On Aug. 20, 2014, Dooley made off-the-record comments to the jury about a soft-spoken witness, according to the complaint. "I'm sorry folks, but I can't slap her around to make her talk louder," the complaint accuses Dooley of saying.

Dooley's statements, according to the accusations, violate the Alaska Code on Judicial Conduct and Alaska statutes, including maintaining "professional competence in the law," being "patient, dignified and courteous" and acting "without bias or prejudice," among other aspects.

Now that formal charges have been filed, Dooley will have a hearing before the commission that Greenstein described as a "full trial proceeding." If the allegations are found to have merit, the commission will recommend action to the Alaska Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court could discipline Dooley with a public statement of wrongdoing, suspension, or removal from office, Greenstein said.

Being removed from office is the most severe discipline, and only one judge -- Dennis Cummings of Bethel -- has faced a recommendation of removal from office, Greenstein said. Cummings ultimately retired before the Supreme Court heard the case, though the court still removed Cummings even after his retirement.

The charges only address the discipline of a judge and don't, in themselves, create any civil or criminal liability, according to Greenstein.

The commission has hired Anchorage attorney John Cashion to argue the case.

Dooley has hired Fairbanks attorney William Satterberg, who did not immediately return a request for comment. Greenstein said Dooley has 20 days to file a response.

According to a 2012 application for judicial appointment, Dooley had been practicing law for 22 years before being appointed to the Nome Superior Court seat and had been a resident of the state for 31 years. Dooley received his law degree from St. Mary's Law School.

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