Minnesota Supreme Court finds Judge’s Impartiality Reasonably Questioned

May 23, 2012, the Minnesota Supreme Court in State v. Pratt, that Pratt is entitled to a new criminal trial, because retired Judge Steven Lange had also been involved with the Hennepin County Attorney’s as an expert in an unrelated civil case.

State v Pratt opinion.

The Court wrote,

“We therefore conclude that the facts and circumstances of this case would cause a reasonable examiner—with full knowledge of those facts and circumstances—to question Judge Lange’s impartiality. Thus, Judge Lange was disqualified under Rule 2.11(A) from presiding at Pratt’s criminal trial.”

Applying the US Supreme Court’s factors from Liljeberg, the Minnesota Supreme Court held,

“Because Judge Lange’s relationship with the HCAO would cause a reasonable examiner to question his impartiality and reversal is required to maintain the public’s confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, we reverse Pratt’s convictions and remand to the district court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.”

It’s curious that Eyewitness News 5 (abc) reported on the decision, without naming the judge who was disqualified for impartiality.  Story here.

The media’s reporting of certain issues needs to grow and change as our community grows and changes.