Judge's Return Questionable after Losing Seat in Election

Judge's Return Questionable after Losing Seat in Election

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A 3rd District judge whose berating of a deer hunter in court prompted a Web site for her ouster and was not re-elected last week is taking some time away from the bench.

Judge Leslie Lewis is taking this week off and whether she will return at all to finish her term remains a mystery.

"I don't want to speculate on what might happen next week," court spokeswoman Nancy Volmer said.

Fellow judges suggested that Lewis take the week off from scheduled hearings. She was on vacation in Italy during the Nov. 7 elections, when 54 percent of the voters in Salt Lake, Tooele and Summit counties said she should not be retained -- a rare defeat for a sitting jurist.

"As you might imagine, this is a difficult time for her, so her colleagues offered to step in and handle her (78) cases this week," Volmer said.

Lewis has the option to remain on the bench through the end of the year.

Salt Lake County District Attorney David Yocom has put on hold a proposed motion asking Lewis to recuse herself from all cases involving county attorneys.

Yocom is concerned Lewis may dislike attorneys in his office after a complaint that was made to the Judicial Conduct Commission that she reduced a sex-offender's sentence to 20 years from 30 years without notifying prosecutors.

Lewis gained notoriety shortly before the election when a video of her berating a man in an illegal hunting case was posted on the Internet.

While the case involved poaching, which is illegal, Lewis said she was prejudiced against "people who kill deer" and recused herself.

Applications for Lewis' seat are being accepted until Dec. 15. A 3rd District nominating commission will recommend five candidates to Gov. Jon Huntsman, who will pick one and send the nomination to the Senate.

Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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