Judge Accused of ‘Vitriolic Attack’ on Group and Its Clipboards Wins Ethics Case

A Minnesota judge accused of a “vitriolic attack” on a court-monitoring group and its members’ intimidating red clipboards has won dismissal of ethics charges stemming from the incident.

A three-judge panel of the Minnesota Supreme Court said the remarks by Judge Jack Nordby “were not so intemperate as to warrant discipline,” the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. The opinion (PDF posted by Minnesota Lawyer) dismissed charges filed by the state Board on Judicial Standards claiming violation of ethics rules requiring judges to act without bias and to be patient, dignified and courteous.

The now-retired Hennepin County judge had asserted at a December 2009 sentencing hearing that the clipboards carried by members of WATCH were a “not very subtle threat to the judge” and that WATCH exhibited a “mixture of self-righteousness, officiousness, arrogance, humorlessness and ignorance.” WATCH had previously claimed that Nordby was inadequately protecting victims.

A lawyer for Nordby, Joe Friedberg, said at the time of the initial ethics charges that his client has “got the cojones to stand up to this, and we’re gonna take them on.” He was similarly combative when the Star Tribune contacted him about the dismissal.

“I’m so gratified by this,” Friedberg said. “I just am so glad that this three-judge panel recognized the narcissistic personality disorder of the Board on Judicial Standards.”

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