May 20, 2011
Stayed Removal Of South Dakota Judge
A circuit court judge is the subject of the first removal from office imposed by the South Dakota Supreme Court in its 121 years. The court ordered his involuntary removal from the bench. The order of removal was stayed on certain conditions, as the court found the judge to be capable of rehabilitation.
The trouble started when the judge referred to the Rapid City police as "a bunch of racists" during a police officer's testimony. The ensuing investigation revealed a pattern of behavior meriting sanction.
The judge had engaged in a pattern of rude and inappropriate behavior that including his calling accused juveniles "peckerheads," commenting that the law was better off before women became lawyers and making remaks about Native American artwork on the walls of his courtroom to the effect of "this is where I hang my Indians."
He also called an attorney an "asshole" in chambers and then flipped him the bird from the bench.
The court noted that the attorneys who testified against the judge had shown "significant courage." The court also noted letters from a number of attorneys to the effect that the judge was "no worse than some other judges" they appear before.
The judge will be suspended for six months without pay.
This earlier coverage of the matter is from the Wall Street Journal. (Mike Frisch)
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