A Kentucky woman has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against suspended Campbell County General Sessions Court Judge Amanda Sammons. The lawsuit filed on behalf of Ashley Keisling of Whitley County, Kentucky by attorney Kathy Parrott also names the Campbell County and Whitley County Sheriff’s Departments, the Campbell County government and the Campbell Court Clerk as defendants.
The lawsuit alleges that Sammons removed Keisling’s two children from her custody without the legal authority or jurisdiction and without a request from the Department of Children’s Services.
According to the lawsuit, in September 2015, Sammons handwrote a note indicating that DCS believed that Keisling’s three children were being abused by their mother and set a hearing in the matter without notifying Keisling. One major problem with that is that Keisling has only two children. The lawsuit also states that DCS had never made such a recommendation. After Keisling missed the hearing she did not know about, Sammons ordered that the children be placed into the custody of their father, whom a Kentucky court had earlier barred from having contact with his children after allegations of abuse.
Keisling’s children were taken out of school by Whitley County deputies and returned to their father, but Keisling only learned about the situation when her son briefly eluded officers and sent her a text message. Sammons denied a request for an immediate hearing in the matter, according to the lawsuit. It took Keisling three weeks to get her children back and the lawsuit alleges that while they were with their father, Johnny Elliott, they were not in school and fell behind in their studies. The lawsuit also alleges that Elliott’s home was unsanitary and the children came back home with bug bites and that one of the children suffered “severe emotional injuries” on being made to return to Elliott’s home as a result of Sammons’ conduct.
The lawsuit also states that Sammons said in court that she had acted “solely on her impression from an unrelated case where she thought these children were mentioned.” Which case she was referring to has not been disclosed.
In addition to this case, Sammons is also under a four-count criminal indictment accusing her of official misconduct and will stand trial on those charges early next month. After the indictment came down, she was suspended from the bench and last month the Campbell County Commission appointed longtime former Judge Joseph Ayers, whom Sammons had defeated in the 2014 election, to serve until her case is resolved. She is also the subject of an ethics probe by the state Board of Judicial Conduct.
The lawsuit asks the court to issue an order preventing the Campbell County government from paying Sammons during her suspension and is also seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.