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32

Disciplinary Actions

(July 1, 2015 – October 31, 2015)

State Commission on Judicial Conduct

Public Sanctions

Public Reprimand

: District Court Judge had several complaints filed against him for inappropriate conduct.

Below are brief summaries:

Allegation 1:

District Court Judge served on the Board of Directors for a bank for which his family had

a substantial interest in its stock (more than $10,000,000) and the bank’s website included his judicial

title. District Court Judge admitted to the Commission that he knew it was a violation to serve as a board

member, but that he continued to serve so that he could look after his family’s financial interests.

Allegation 2:

District Court Judge openly discussed the “Indecency with a Child” charges against a father

that had just appeared in his courtroom for a placement review hearing of his children. The father and

his attorney had already left the courtroom. The judge made several disparaging statements, including

that the father was “going away for a long time.” District Court Judge was later recused from the father’s

criminal case.

Allegation 3:

District Court Judge publicly discussed a killing that happened in his community in which

a wife killed her husband. He stated that some people “needed to be killed” in reference to the husband

and that the state would not get an indictment. When the case landed in his court, the State reduced the

wife’s charge to manslaughter. The District Court Judge also discussed possible plea deals in an

ex parte

communication with the wife’s attorney, which caused the prosecutor to file a recusal motion.

Allegation 4:

District Court Judge found out that a probationer was using drugs in violation of his terms,

and called the defendant’s probation officer to inquire why defendant’s bond was not revoked. After

refusing the plea deal offered in this case, District Court Judge then further refused to dismiss the case.

When the prosecutor responded by not offering arguments or presenting witnesses, District Court Judge

called the probation officer as a witness and questioned him. He then found defendant violated probation

and gave him jail time. In response to the Commission, District Court Judge admitted to being too involved

in the case, but said he believed that in a small town like his, it reflected poorly on the judiciary to not take

action when it was publicly known that defendant was violating his probation.

Allegation 5:

District Court Judge was recused after making a statement that a defendant in his

courtroom would serve 180 days in jail because “he deserved it.” He made these statements to the

prosecutor without defense counsel present.

Allegation 6:

District Court Judge ordered that a defense attorney be removed from the indigent defense

wheel without obtaining a majority vote of the judges in violation of the county’s indigent defense plan.

District Court Judge also appointed and approved payment to one attorney in a disproportionately high

percentage of cases in violation of the county’s plan. District Court Judge told the Commission this was

due to the fact that he believed the attorney was the most qualified to handle murder cases and that the

cases would be less likely to come back to him on appeal.

Allegation 7

: District Court Judge improperly intervened in the appointment of counsel to an indigent

defendant. He refused to allow the counsel who was representing defendant in a misdemeanor case to

represent the defendant in his felony case.

Allegation 8

: District Court Judge improperly presided over a case in which the defendant was a friend

of his.

Allegation

9: District Court Judge was accused of having improper

ex parte

communication with a