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West Jordan judge facing misdemeanor charge

Published: Thursday, Aug. 16 2012 8:20 p.m. MDT

WEST JORDAN — A West Jordan Justice Court judge is facing a criminal charge for allegedly sharing protected criminal information about a defendant to a third parties.

Ronald E. Kunz, 50, was charged with misuse of criminal history record information, a class B misdemeanor, in 3rd District Court. According to charging documents, Kunz discussed the criminal history record of a defendant with a West Jordan police victim's advocate, a West Jordan justice court clerk and a City Weekly reporter.

"Those in attendance at the meeting were not parties to the case involving (the defendant), but were apparently meeting with (Kunz) regarding concerns that they had with the case," the charges state.

An agent with the Utah State Bureau of Investigations said he later reviewed a recording of the meeting from Aug. 18, 2010, and said Kunz "was discussing aloud information obtained from (the defendant's) Bureau of Criminal Identification criminal history record," the charges state.

"BCI provides the West Jordan Justice Court with access to individual criminal history records for the adjudication of cases that are before the court and not for release of that information to third parties after the adjudication of the case," the charges state.

The defendant involved had pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of operating a vehicle without insurance and willfully failing to appear and was ordered to pay a fine.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said his office was contacted by West Jordan City, who requested that his office review allegations of misconduct by the judge. The allegation was then investigated by the Utah Department of Public Safety, which turned its findings over to the district attorney.

Gill said a BCI criminal history report is a protected document that can be used by prosecutors, law enforcement and judges, but carries "very strict guidelines." Judges often refer to details in BCI reports in open court during sentencing or other hearings. But Gill said the way in which Kunz shared this information was outside the proper forum.

"The context of the release and the parties they were released to were in violation of the law," he said. "Without going into the details of the case, obviously this was a matter that was before the court, then went outside the court setting, but there shouldn't have been access to that information."

Emiley Morgan

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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