Nome Judge Accused of Misconduct

Nome Superior Court Judge Timothy Dooley is facing a host of allegations from a judicial oversight commission for alleged violations of professional conduct.

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The Alaska Commission on Judicial Conduct cites six incidents—brought to their attention through anonymous complaints—beginning the first month Dooley was on the job in May of 2013 and running through September of last year.

Courtroom recordings—made available through the commission—highlight a series of statements by Dooley the commission says violates state law and the state’s code of conduct for judges—by showing “insensitivity” to victims, witness, and others in both criminal and civil cases.

In a May 2013 hearing, Judge Dooley asks a man facing a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest:

“You don’t have to answer this question, but has anything good ever come out of drinking other than sex with a pretty girl?”

In a November 2013 sentencing hearing—after a guilty conviction for sexual abuse of a 14-year-old girl—Dooley says:

“From what I’ve read this was not someone who was, I hate to use the phrase asking for it, there are girls out there who seem to be temptresses, and this does not appear to be anything like that.”

And last August Judge Dooley spoke to the jury during a domestic violence case—with the victim on the stand.

Juror: “She keeps mumbling and I can’t understand her.”

Dooley: “I know. I’m not allowed to slap her around, I can just say something.”

A civil trial that same month showcased Dooley’s self-described “medieval Christianity”—statements the commission says are “inappropriate to the dignity of judicial office.”

“I’m going to enforce those 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.”

A final violation alleges Judge Dooley essentially bargained a specific sentence in exchange for a defendants’ “no contest” plea. The commission says that defendant didn’t have a lawyer—all of which the commission says is conduct that harms “the administration of justice” and brings the judicial office “into disrepute.”

Marla Greenstein is the executive director of the commission. She says the complaint was built on review of court transcripts and interviews with people working in the Nome legal system. The case, she says, has been building for months.

“The commission evaluates the conduct in the investigation at various stages and gave notice to the judge several times in the process. The point where they made the determination it was serious enough to warrant public charges was at a meeting on May 12.”

Judge Dooley has 20 days to respond to the complaint. He said Wednesday he has no comment on the violations.

Greenstein says Judge Dooley could face a hearing before the 9 members of the commission, or reach a settlement—either outcome will go before the state Supreme Court, which will rule(s) on 1 of 3 possible outcomes.

“A public censure, basically a public statement that the conduct was wrong and violated the Code of Judicial Conduct; suspension from office for a certain period of time; and then, the most severe, is a removal from office.”

An Alaska resident for nearly 40 years, Judge Dooley has lived all over the state: from urban hubs like Anchorage and Fairbanks to rural communities like Bethel and the North Slope. He opened a private law practice in 1993, he was appointed to his current position in Nome in March of 2013 by former governor Sean Parnell.

Matthew Smith is a reporter at KNOM in Nome.

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