SD Judge Faces Potential Removal Over Alleged Rude and Racist Remarks and Use of the 'Bird'

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For the first time in its 121-year history, the top court of South Dakota is to hold a hearing later this month to decide whether to remove a sitting judge from the bench.

The Judicial Qualifications Commission contends that Judge A.P. “Pete” Fuller of the state’s 7th Circuit was rude and made racist remarks in court, and recommends that he retire or be removed from the bench, according to the Rapid City Journal and the Associated Press.

At one point Fuller allegedly made an obscene hand gesture (the “bird”) to a lawyer from the bench, apparently intending it as something of a joke, according to a copy of the complaint (PDF) provided by the Rapid City Journal.

The newspaper also provides a link to an affidavit (PDF) provided by attorney David R. Nelson in the case.

Fuller and his counsel say the concerns do not warrant his removal from the bench.

An earlier Rapid City Journal article published on Feb. 5 provides additional details.

Pennington County State’s Attorney Glenn Brenner initiated the complaint against Fuller after he allegedly called police “a bunch of racists” concerning their handling of a traffic stop. However, he also spoke positively of the judge, the newspaper reported in February.

“I did what I had to do in filing this complaint, but that’s where my involvement ended,” he told the Rapid City Journal. “I like this judge personally. I think most people would say that they like him on a personal level. He’s a nice guy.”

Hat tip: Associated Press.

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