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Embattled Oklahoma County judge sued twice over debts

Earlier coverage: Oklahoma County District Judge Kendra Coleman

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Coleman
Coleman

After a tumultuous first year on the bench, Oklahoma County District Judge Kendra Coleman has been sued — twice — at the start of her second.

Last week, the Oklahoma Tax Commission sued to collect more than $13,000 in overdue state income taxes, penalties and interest. Last month, Capital One Bank sued to collect an unpaid $1,693 credit card bill.

Coleman, 43, of Oklahoma City, and her attorney did not respond to requests for comment.

"I'm a regular person with regular issues the same as everyone else in the world," she told The Oklahoman in September about her financial difficulties. "It's life. These things happen."

The Tax Commission alleges the judge owed $13,166 as of Jan. 29 on her 2011 and 2012 income. Penalties and interest have almost tripled what she originally owed in taxes, according to the lawsuit. Attorneys want her wages garnished.

The bank alleges the judge defaulted on an agreement to pay off her credit card bill in monthly installments. Attorneys want her to be ordered to pay the debt, plus court costs.

Last year, the judge was accused in a criminal case of tax evasion, reprimanded and admonished by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, and found in contempt by the Oklahoma Ethics Commission.

The felony tax evasion case involves her 2017 state income tax return. She filed the return last September, one day after The Oklahoman reported it was overdue.

Her attorney is seeking a dismissal of the case. A Payne County district judge last month rejected a defense request for a new prosecutor.

The Supreme Court voted 5-4 in December to reprimand and admonish her rather than seek her removal.

She was reprimanded for failing to file her campaign reports on time in violation of state ethics rules and the Code of Judicial Conduct. She was admonished for neglecting her federal, state and county tax obligations for several years and for not paying parking tickets on time.

Over the years, she has been assessed more than $100,000 by the IRS and Tax Commission for overdue income taxes, penalties and interest, The Oklahoman reported in September.

She also owed Oklahoma City more than $400 in unpaid parking tickets, The Oklahoman reported in September. She paid those fines after the story was published.

The Ethics Commission found her in contempt for not turning over subpoenaed bank records sought for an investigation of her 2018 campaign. She told the Supreme Court her due process rights were being violated but justices refused to consider the issue.

She was assigned for most of last year to oversee criminal cases, but clashed in that position with the district attorney and at times defense attorneys. She was reassigned for 2020 to handle victim protective order requests and mental health cases.

A number of women seeking protective orders and victim advocates have been critical of her courtroom demeanor. Some have reported her to the Council on Judicial Complaints. The judge this week is in California for training.

"She was just rude," one pregnant woman told The Oklahoman.

Nolan Clay

Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,... Read more ›

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