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Kentucky Bar Association v. Maze

Supreme Court of Kentucky

May 23, 2013



The Kentucky Bar Association (KBA) charges Donald "Champ" Maze with several counts of misconduct in three separate cases, KBA File 14681, File 15241 and File 15236, all of which arise from Maze's actions prior and subsequent to the May 6, 2006 election for Bath County Attorney. The Trial Commissioner and the Office of Bar Counsel recommend permanent disbarment, whereas Maze requests and the KBA Board of Governors recommend a five-year suspension. Having reviewed the entire record, this Court finds permanent disbarment is the appropriate disciplinary sanction for Maze's misconduct. Maze, whose KBA number is 82100 and whose last known bar roster address is 115 Court Street, P.O. Box 580, Owingsville, Kentucky 40360, was admitted to the practice of law in 1987.

KBA File 14681

After graduating from law school in 1987, Maze returned home and opened a solo practice in Owingsville, Kentucky. In 1990, Maze was elected as the Bath County Attorney and served three consecutive four-year terms until he was defeated in 2002. In 2006, Maze again ran for Bath County Attorney. The primary election that year, which was set for May 6, was rife with corruption and vote buying. According to the vote buying scheme, voting "assistors" would accompany voters into the voting booth, pay them for their vote, and then direct them to cast their ballot for particular candidates. The presence of the "assistors" was justified by the voter's alleged blindness, illiteracy or inability to operate the voting machine. Maze or others associated with him tried to persuade the Kentucky State Police to intervene but the practice continued. Eventually, Maze paid people involved in the scheme to add his name to the list of candidates for whom people were paid and directed to vote. Maze won the election and took office as Bath County Attorney on January 1, 2007.

The authorities investigated the extensive corruption surrounding the 2006 election and on September 8, 2006 Maze testified before a federal grand jury about his involvement. While under oath, Maze testified as follows:

Q: Did you give any cash, during the election process, to any of those people who were indicted?
A: No.
Q: You didn't give any cash to Norman Crouch?
A: No.
Q: You didn't give any cash to Tammy Manly?
A: No.
Q: You didn't give any cash to David Hunt?
A: No.
Q: We have heard testimony that some of these individuals, testimony from a number of people, when voting, the paid assistors as we call them, the ones who were assisting people to vote and then paying them, were voting your name along with several others as sort of a slate. Do you have any reason to know why they would be doing that? Or any explanation for the Grand Jury?
A: No, I don't.

In fact, Maze had paid people, including Manly, to add his name to the slate of candidates. Maze was soon thereafter indicted in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky on five counts of criminal activity, including vote buying and perjury. Maze initially pled not guilty to all charges and his case proceeded to.trial. Before its conclusion, however, Maze and the prosecution reached a plea agreement. On February 13, 2007, Maze pled guilty (1) to paying Tammy Manly $100.00, Annette Mitchell $100.00, David Hunt $ 180.00, Norman Crouch over $200.00 and paying Anthony White for votes and (2) to lying under oath to a federal grand jury. The other three charges pending against Maze were dismissed. On July 9, 2007, Maze was sentenced to twenty-one months in prison on each count, to run concurrently, followed by two years of supervised release and 200 hours of community service. He was fined $50, 000.00 and assessed a criminal monetary penalty of $200.00. Maze also resigned his position as Bath County Attorney. He was released from prison on November 14, 2008 and returned home to Owingsville. Maze has paid both the fine and penalty and has completed both his supervised release and the 200 hours of community service. Since his release from prison, Maze has obtained employment selling cars and also assists his mother with various tasks.

In connection with these matters, the KBA charged Maze with violating SCR 3.130(8.3)(b) (committing criminal act that reflects adversely on honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as lawyer) and SCR 3.130(8.3)(c) (engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation). In both his Answer and in the Joint Stipulations submitted prior to the Trial Commissioner's hearing, Maze admitted he violated SCR 3.130(8.3)(b) and SCR 3.130(8.3)(c).

KBA File 15241

At the beginning of his federal trial on the aforementioned charges, Maze copied and distributed to individuals not involved in his trial the list of the fifty to sixty people selected as prospective jurors in his trial. Among the several individuals who got a copy of this list were Paul Goodpaster, the Property Valuation Administrator for Bath County, and Charles Hart, a businessman in Bath County. Maze also later distributed the list of fourteen jurors (twelve jurors and two alternates) who were selected and empanelled to serve as his jury. Maze testified that he copied this list and made it available for people to pick up at his office. After trial had recessed one day, Maze met with Goodpaster and Hart in Goodpaster's office, at which time Hart called Cliff Davis, who was the work supervisor of juror Audie Banks.

Immediately after Maze pled guilty to buying votes and lying to a grand jury, he was questioned by the federal prosecutor about his involvement in the jury tampering, which was then under investigation. Maze testified about the phone call made to Cliff Davis as follows:

Q: Well, who was going to do it and what were they going to do?
A: I guess Chuck was going to check on the guy and probably -
Q: Probably what?
A: See if he could help, I guess.
Q: Well, that's kind of code for something, see, help you do what?
A: Well, I don't know, I mean - let me lead up to it, okay? Mr. Banks worked at a place called Kirk National Lease. It was discussed, we think, that this guy works at Kirk National Lease, this Cliff- where this Cliff is the supervisor, all right?
Chuck made the phone call, asked "Does Audie Banks work there?"
This guy said, "Yeah." I didn't hear him on the other end, but he said, "Well, well - I'll get with you one day this week."
Q: I understand what was said.
A: [T]he idea was to see if this Banks guy did work there, who he was and possibly get some kind of favorable word to ...

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