Panel Says Now-Retired Judge Broke Judicial Rules, Recommends Reprimand and Denial of Senior Status

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A retired Minnesota judge should be publicly reprimanded for disclosing confidential information from a sealed court file and for withdrawing from a judicial election at the last possible moment without telling anyone but his law clerk and a court reporter, a state disciplinary panel has held.

Retired Washington County District Court judge Thomas Armstrong should also be denied his request for senior status, the state’s board on judicial standards recommended Monday.

Armstrong, who left office Jan. 1 after 30 years on the bench, had been accused of improperly disclosing confidential information from a sexual abuse case he had previously ordered sealed to a state senator and others, the Star Tribune and Twin Cities.com report.

He also was accused of pulling out of a judicial election last year just before the 5 p.m. filing deadline, leaving his law clerk as the only candidate on the ballot and forcing the secretary of state’s office to open a new filing period for the election. Armstrong, citing family matters, filed his retirement papers the next day.

He was cleared of other allegations that he had tampered with and tried to influence the testimony of a witness during the investigation of the misconduct case against him.

Armstrong, who defended his actions at length during the disciplinary proceedings against him, couldn’t be reached for comment after the panel’s decision.

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