The first judge in Utah history to leave the bench under charges of drug abuse is now the first judge to be disbarred for illegal drug use, says the Deseret Morning News. In a unanimous ruling yesterday, the Utah Supreme Court said disbarment of former 4th District Judge Ray Harding Jr. was the only remedy to keep the public’s confidence in the justice system.
Harding had been a member of the Utah Bar since 1978 and was appointed to the bench in 1995. He was charged with possession of a controlled substance after testing positive for cocaine, opiates and Valium in July 2002. Harding’s drug abuse came to light when police were called to his home for a domestic disturbance in 2002. He later resigned before the state Senate had a chance to vote on his impeachment. Attorney Greg Skordas said his client expected the court ruling. “I suppose a person who’s a judge should be held to a higher standard,” Skordas said.