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Judge Finds Misconduct in Sex Offender's Sentence Swap

Judge Finds Misconduct in Sex Offender's Sentence Swap



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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A 3rd District Court judge has ruled that a former colleague reduced a convicted sex offender's sentence without consulting attorneys or the victim.

Judge Robert K. Hilder issued his findings of fact last week after reviewing the Feb. 16, 2006 sentencing for James Robert Scott, who was convicted of child sodomy.

Then-Judge Leslie Lewis originally sentenced Scott, 41, to three consecutive terms of 10-years-to-life. She later ordered two of the terms run concurrently, cutting 10 years off the bottom-end of the sentence.

Lewis made the change after Scott's attorney Roger Kraft sent a letter complaining she had repeatedly interrupted him during a court hearing. In a telephone call one month later, Lewis offered Kraft the reduction and asked he not discuss their conversation.

In his findings, Hilder wrote he saw no evidence the change was the result of a "hearing requested by any party" and "no evidence that any party was given notice of the amendment."

Hilder's report now goes the Utah Court of Appeals, where justices will decide which sentence will stand.

Lewis is no longer on the bench -- ousted by voters last fall after the Scott allegations and complaints that she berated a deer hunter in court surfaced on the Internet.

She could still face disciplinary action from the Utah Supreme Court, however.

Salt Lake County's district attorney also filed a Judicial Conduct Commission complaint against Lewis in October after learning about the change in Scott's sentence.

Scott is currently serving time in the Utah State Prison. He was convicted of three counts of sodomy on a child for the abuse of a 6-year-old girl. In a plea agreement, 17 counts of sexual abuse charges were dropped.

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Information from: Deseret Morning News, http://www.deseretnews.com

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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