Judge Wants Disciplinary Action Dismissed

Judge Wants Disciplinary Action Dismissed

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Third District Juvenile Judge Joseph Anderson, in a challenge to the state Judicial Conduct Commission, has asked the Utah Supreme Court to dismiss disciplinary action against him or to discipline him in private.

Oral arguments in the Anderson matter are scheduled before the Supreme Court on Monday.

The Judicial Conduct Commission, which investigates complaints against judges and offers recommendations to the high court, in April recommended that Anderson be publicly reprimanded for failing to meet statutory time frames in juvenile cases.

Anderson, in turn, has challenged the constitutionality of the law that requires judges to decide what to do with juvenile cases within a certain time period, and also questioned the role of the commission voicing concerns about the fact that it acts as "investigator, complainant, prosecutor and judge."

"Since there is no separation of adjudication and prosecution, the disciplinary proceedings against Judge Anderson should be dismissed," says a brief filed Anderson's attorney, Wayne Petty, filed with the high court.

Briefs involving the Anderson matter also have been filed by the Utah Attorney General's Office, the Utah Legislature and the conduct commission.

The Legislature's friend-of-the-court brief urges the high court to find that the state's judicial disciplinary system complies with due-process requirements. The commission's brief concludes that, "Each of Judge Anderson's constitutional claims should be resolved in favor of the JCC."

The attorney general's brief contends that Utah's one-tier judicial conduct system does not violate judges' due-process rights and the appointment of legislators to the conduct commission does not violate the separation-of-powers provision in the state constitution.

According to court documents, the commission found nine cases in which the judge failed to hold final adjudication hearings within 60 days of original shelter hearings. In two other cases, Anderson failed to render timely decisions.

The commission said Anderson had "demonstrated disregard and indifference to the law, which is conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, which brings a judicial office into disrepute."

Anderson has complained of a "lack of cooperation" from lawyers from the Utah Attorney General's Office, the state's Guardian ad Litem office, which represents the interests of children in court, and parents' defense attorneys. He said they consistently failed to fully investigate cases and prepare for court.

Last September, the Utah Court of Appeals, citing an appearance of bias, disqualified Anderson from hearing any juvenile delinquency case in which the guardian ad litem was appointed.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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