Posted Sep 17, 2009 09:38 pm CDT
Rejecting a recommendation that a Minnesota judge should be removed from office for steering matrimonial mediation cases to his own divorce attorney, the state supreme court has suspended him for six months without pay.
The court also censured Goodhue County District Judge Timothy Blakely for his referral program. Although both he and his lawyer denied that there was a quid-pro-quo arrangement, he obtained a deep discount on the legal bill for his own divorce, according to the Star Tribune and the court’s written opinion (PDF).
Blakely, who represented himself in the matter, had sought to be penalized solely with a censure.
“Although extremely serious, Judge Blakely’s misconduct is not as egregious as the misconduct in the three cases in which we have exercised our power to remove a judge,” the court writes.
Blakely didn’t tell the more than 20 clients he steered to Christine Stroemer over a four-year period that she was his own lawyer or that he owed her firm a lot of money, the newspaper recounts. In exchange for the referrals, he reportedly received a $64,000 discount on his own bill.
A legal ethics investigation resulted after the judge’s ex-wife complained in 2007 to the Board on Judicial Standards.
ABAJournal.com: “Remove Minn. Judge Who Cut Legal Bill By Referring Cases, Board Recommends”