Legal Ethics

Minnesota Judge Suspended for Living Outside Her District; Are Her Decisions in Question?

The Minnesota Supreme Court has suspended a Hennepin County judge for six months without pay because she lived full-time in a lake home outside her district in the summer of 2009.

The censure and suspension raise questions about the validity of decisions issued by Judge Patricia Karasov from July to September 2009 when she lived full-time in the home, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. The Pioneer Press also has a story.

The supreme court said Karasov violated state constitutional requirements mandating that judges live in the district they serve. Karasov “acted in a manner suggesting that constitutional requirements do not apply to her,” the opinion (PDF) said.

The court also said Karasov gave inconsistent accounts about her residence, asserting early in the investigation that she didn’t live outside the district. Karasov had argued that she lived in the lake home only temporarily and she intended to find housing in her district. But the court wasn’t persuaded.

“Regarding intent, the record strongly demonstrates that Judge Karasov intended to remain at her lake home and that it was the board’s investigation of her that caused her to change her plans,” the court said.

Karasov’s lawyer, David Herr, told the Star Tribune the court failed to take into account that his client bought the home to be close to her ailing father.

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