MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Judge Patricia Warner decided to step down from her bench just six months into her second term as a family court judge and even as she had cases pending in her courtroom.
Mark Montiel, a Montgomery attorney and the co-host of the Capitol Buzz Show on Newsradio1440, told WSFA 12 News Warner is facing a judicial inquiry for possible misconduct. He said he's been contacted as a potential witness.
"Judge Warner is under investigation by the Judicial Inquiry Commission in at least one case," Montiel said. "And that would be one that involves my very own client that's why I'm familiar with that."
The Judicial Inquiry Commission investigates complaints that judges have violated the state's code of conduct. Those judges would then face a trial from the state's Court of the Judiciary. By law, its proceedings are confidential until charges are brought against a judge. So the commission could not confirm or deny that Warner was under investigation.
"Hundreds, if not thousands of these are filed against judges and are dismissed very quickly, so it's much different when the court finds that there's merit and opens an investigation," said Montiel.
And Montiel said even if Warner is retired, she could still face charges from the commission. A recent example is Judge John Steensland of Houston County. He retired last April, but still faced an ethics trial. He was barred from ever hearing a case again.
"A retired judge is still a judge," Montiel said. "They're subject to still hearing cases and being assigned cases, she's taking a retirement, she's still subject to JIC's jurisdiction."
Since word surfaced that Warner was retiring, WSFA 12 News has made frequent attempts to get her response. She has not returned our calls.