The state Supreme Court has issued a formal censure against the onetime district judge who resigned for obstructing a drug investigation in Weld County and pleaded guilty to a federal crime.
Ryan L. Kamada, appointed in 2018 to the 19th Judicial District bench, had been friends since high school with a man involved in a cocaine distribution scheme in northern Colorado. When a drug task force officer asked Kamada in April 2019 to review a warrant request, Kamada rescued himself because of his connections to the subject of the warrant.
However, Kamada then called another friend, assistant middle school principal Geoffrey Chacon, and told him to “stay away” from the trafficker. Chacon then alerted the trafficker and destroyed his own communications with the man.
In June of this year, Kamada pleaded guilty to obstructing the proceedings of a federal agency, and has a sentencing hearing scheduled for February 2021. Kamada also conditionally admitted to misconduct in August, leading Presiding Disciplinary Judge William R. Lucero to order his disbarment.
The misconduct extended far beyond the federal investigation, including emailing photographs of courtroom litigants to friends, looking up a person’s case details for Chacon and disclosing information over a group text about a former client.
“Kamada also emailed his friends photographs of his work area that included a computer screen showing case numbers, litigants’ names, events, and document titles,” the disciplinary report explained.
Kamada’s pattern of disclosing information to friends took place within his first month as a district judge, when he texted friends that the woman in a divorce proceeding would be “free game tomorrow night.”
The judge resigned in August 2019, admitting in his federal plea agreement that he “should have foreseen” his tipoff would affect the drug investigation. The Colorado Commission on Judicial Discipline recommended a public censure for Kamada.
The Supreme Court, in an unsigned opinion issued on Monday, upheld the commission's findings that Kamada violated multiple canons of judicial conduct through abusing the prestige of his judicial office, communicating about matters before him as judge and failing to comply with the law.
The court acknowledged that Kamada had not previously been subject to discipline, but nevertheless, “the violations in this case are very serious. Then-Judge Kamada’s pattern of reckless disregard for confidential information undermined his office and the public’s confidence in the judiciary. In fact, his behavior interfered with a multiagency law enforcement operation and resulted in a criminal conviction in federal court.”
Jason R. Dunn, U.S. Attorney for Colorado, said on Monday that while he could not comment on Kamada's federal case until sentencing, it was important to hold judges to the highest ethical standards.
"When that public trust is broken, consequences are appropriate," he said. "Luckily, such instances are extremely rare here in Colorado, and we are fortunate to have outstanding judges across the state.”
Kamada's attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The opinion further indicated the court would have removed Kamada from office had he not already resigned.
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