Nome Superior Court Judge Timothy Dooley is facing a host of allegations from a judicial oversight commission. The charges say that alleged violations of professional conduct, as well as violating sections of state law call his integrity into question.
In all, 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 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, witnesses and others in both criminal and civil cases.
In a May 2013 hearing, Dooley asked 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 said to the man being sentenced: “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.”
In August 2014 Dooley said during a domestic violence case, when a juror could not hear the victim on the stand: “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 said 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,” Dooley began. “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 Dooley essentially bargained a specific sentence in exchange for a defendant’s “no contest” plea. In addition, the commission states the defendant didn’t have a lawyer, all of which the commission claims 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 said the complaint was built on review of court transcripts and interviews with people working in the Nome legal system. (The names of those interviewed, Greenstein added, remains confidential at this time.) She said the case has been building for months.
“The commission evaluates the conduct in the investigation at various stages and gave notice to [Dooley] several times in the process,” Greenstein said. “The point where they made the determination [that it was serious enough to warrant public charges] was at a meeting on May 12.”
Dooley has 20 days to respond to the complaint. He said Wednesday he has no comment on the alleged violations.
Greenstein said Dooley could face a hearing before the nine members of the commission, which she estimates could take place as early as November. He could also reach a settlement before a hearing. Either outcome will ultimately go before the state Supreme Court, which will rule on one of three possible outcomes.
“A public censure, basically a public statement that the conduct was wrong and violated the Code of Judicial Conduct,” Greenstein said. Dooley could also face “suspension from office for a certain period of time; and then, the most severe, is a removal from office.”
Only one judge has faced that “most severe” punishment, former Bethel Judge Dennis Cummings who was removed from his position as judge in January 2013.
An Alaska resident for nearly 40 years, 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 an Anchorage-based private law practice in 1993. He assumed his current position in Nome in March 2013 by appointment from former governor Sean Parnell.