Ousted Oklahoma County District Judge Kendra Coleman gets public reprimand

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The Oklahoma Supreme Court has disciplined an ousted Oklahoma County district judge for a "criminal act" that justices found demonstrates her unfitness to practice law.

The discipline — a public reprimand — is the latest blow to Kendra Coleman's efforts to get her judicial office back.

The discipline involved her failure to file her 2017 state tax return on time.

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In February, she was sentenced on the misdemeanor offense to probation until her personal debt to the Oklahoma Tax Commission was paid off. The case was dismissed and expunged from the public record in April after she made a final payment of $8,150.

Other Oklahoma attorneys also have been given public reprimands for offenses involving taxes, while some were suspended from the practice of law for months.

At least six justices agreed to the discipline for Coleman.

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Tami Mukes hugs cousin Kendra Coleman, right, during a prayer rally outside the Oklahoma Judicial Center in 2020.
Tami Mukes hugs cousin Kendra Coleman, right, during a prayer rally outside the Oklahoma Judicial Center in 2020.

"While each situation involves unique transgressions and mitigation, we find that public reprimand is the appropriate discipline here in order to alert the public and profession that the Court regards this as serious misconduct and to be in accordance with precedent," Chief Justice Richard Darby wrote in the opinion filed Tuesday.

Justice Doug Combs wrote the reprimand should have been private.

Justice Yvonne Kauger agreed in part and dissented in part with the discipline but did not write separately to explain. Justice James Edmondson disqualified himself from the decision.

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Coleman was ordered to pay $2,157 to cover the cost of the disciplinary proceedings.

In the opinion, the chief justice also wrote that the Supreme Court was troubled by evidence Coleman has yet to pay off a substantial tax debt owed by her and an ex-husband.

Attorneys representing the Tax Commission said in February the joint tax liabilities exceeded $10,000.

Coleman was elected in 2018. The Oklahoma Court on the Judiciary removed her from office last year on misconduct grounds.

In October, Coleman kicked off efforts to be elected judge again in 2022. On her Facebook page, voters are told: "COME GET YOUR JUDGE BACK!"

Coleman entered a so-called Alford plea to the misdemeanor charge. Under an Alford plea, a defendant accepts a sentence for a crime without admitting to it. She specifically noted in the paperwork that she maintains her innocence.

Earlier this month, the Oklahoma Ethics Commission accused her in a civil case of multiple campaign finance violations dating to 2017.

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Ousted Oklahoma County judge gets public reprimand for late tax return

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