Archive for Sunday, September 16, 2001

County prosecutor must resign

September 16, 2001


— The chief prosecutor in Bourbon County must have his work supervised until the end of the year and then resign under a ruling made Friday by the state's highest court.

The Supreme Court accepted a proposal from County Atty. John Lloyd Swarts III in a disciplinary case. The agreement also requires Swarts, a Republican who has had the job for seven years, to stop practicing law on Jan. 1, the same day he is to leave office.

In an unsigned opinion, the justices concluded that Swarts had violated code of conduct for attorneys in nine incidents starting in 1994. They said he had made improper remarks in court and about troubled children and had attempted to manufacture evidence in a criminal case.

During a June hearing, Swarts acknowledged to the justices that he had violated some rules of conduct but said he had not intended to embarrass the court system.

However, in their ruling Friday, the justices said Swarts "failed to recognize the harm caused to his office and the public by his conduct."

The allegation that Swarts attempted to manufacture evidence stemmed from an October 1994 district court hearing for a man accused of lewd behavior. A key piece of evidence was a handkerchief, collected by police and kept in a brown paper sack.

That evidence was lost. Before the hearing, according to the court, Swarts placed his own handkerchief in a similar sack and brought it into the courtroom and placed it on his table. He later said he was trying to embarrass the defendant.

"His suggestion that the paper sack was there to potentially embarrass the defendant shows a totally deficient understanding of his obligations as a prosecutor," the court said.

According to the court, in 1998 Swarts:

l Told the father of a troubled boy that he should chain the boy to his bed so his parents could get some sleep. The father took the advice, and the boy was removed from the home.

l Said he hoped a child considered suicidal would commit suicide "because everyone would be better off."

l Yelled at a black teen-age girl during a court hearing, "Do you think slavery is over?"

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