WALHALLA, S.C. (AP) — The South Carolina Supreme Court has suspended the probate judge in Oconee County for 18 months for breaking judicial rules for a second time.
Kenneth “Kenny” Johns improperly acted as a character witness for an out-of-state legal proceeding and asked for donations to the Red Cross on his publicly accessible Facebook page that identified him as a judge, the justices said in an order last week.
It’s Johns’ second suspension for social media violations. In 2016, he was suspended for six months for a Facebook post suggesting the parents of a 19-year-old man were only concerned with money when they reached a $2 million settlement after their son was killed by police. He also has improperly posted about raising money and endorsing a presidential candidate.
The order said Johns admitted he violated the rules and agreed to a punishment ranging from a reprimand to the 18-month suspension.
Probate judges aren’t required to be lawyers, but do make decisions concerning how money and property is distributed in estates and other legal actions.
Rules for judges prohibit them from asking for money or advocating directly for a cause.
Johns also in 2017 advocated for the character of a South Carolina man involved in a legal issue, saying the man didn’t do anything fraudulent with his mother’s money and at times writing in all capital letters, according to the court order.
Court rules prohibit judges from voluntarily being character witnesses.
The 18-month suspension came in part because of Johns’ earlier punishment.
After that 2016 suspension, the justices wrote that Johns “submits that he is deeply embarrassed about the matter and seeks to assure the Court that, in the future, he will not make reference to anything involving his court and will refrain from making political posts or posting fundraising information on Facebook or any other social media.”