ABINGDON, VA (WJHL) – Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to make fellow Judge Kurt Pomrenke prove he should not be held in criminal contempt of court, according to recently filed federal court documents.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office believes Pomrenke, the husband of former Bristol Virginia Utilities’ executive Stacey Pomrenke, violated a court order when he shared court records with the Virginia Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission last year.
As we reported last week, the commission, which investigates complaints of judicial misconduct, opened a case against Judge Pomrenke earlier this month, alleging misconduct and asking the Virginia Supreme Court to consider whether Pomrenke should retire, be censured or be removed.
According to JIRC’s notice of charges, sent in January, Judge Pomrenke is accused of violating three rules of judicial conduct.
“You have violated Cannons of judicial conduct for the Commonwealth of Virginia in that you have failed to: Uphold integrity and independence of the judiciary by observing, maintaining and enforcing the high standards of conduct, Avoid impropriety or the appearance of impropriety in all of your activities and act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary, Refrain from lending the prestige of your judicial office to advance the private interests of you or others and refrain from testifying as a character witness,” his notice of charges said.
According to federal court records, Judge Pomrenke sent JIRC a letter in March 2016 with attachments, which prosecutors say violated the court’s order prohibiting the disclosure of discovery materials. The letter was Judge Pomrenke’s attempt to dispute allegations he used his position for personal gain when he sent BVU CEO Don Bowman a “Thank You” card, along with his business card, after a federal grand jury indicted his wife. Prosecutors called the card a veiled intimidation letter.
- WEB EXTRA: Judge Kurt Pomrenke’s letter to JIRC (.pdf)
His notice of charges lists the “Thank You” card and a voicemail he left on a possible witness’ phone as the basis for charging him with misconduct.
“I believe this complaint is wholly without merit and was filed in an attempt to embarrass me in front of the Commission,” Judge Pomrenke said in his March 2016 letter, according to federal court records. “I have what I believe to be a stellar reputation and I truly believe my integrity is beyond question. I take my duties and obligations as a judge most seriously and would never attempt to influence anyone or any process for personal gain.”
Stacey Pomrenke is currently serving a prison sentence after a jury convicted her of more than a dozen corruption-related charges. Her scheduled release date is June 13, 2018, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
- WEB EXTRA: Motion to order ‘show cause why Kurt Pomrenke should not be held in contempt of court’ (.pdf)
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