You might recall that I ran for Hennepin County judge against Thomas Wexler in 2002.
In January 2009 Judge Wexler left the bench.
In late 2011, several clients of mine had issues with Judge Lloyd Zimmerman. In December 2011, one of my clients indicated by letter indicating he would seek to recuse Judge Zimmerman. For reasons that are still unclear to me, this set off a veritable firestorm of events. Judge Zimmerman began issuing sua sponte orders. These appeared, to us, to be roadblocks which would (unfairly) prevent the client from filing his motion to disqualify Judge Zimmerman.
My client made the decision to seek review by a higher court.
I went to the signing judge to get some orders signed first. I thought it was going to be perfunctory.
When I learned retired Judge Wexler was the signing judge that day, my instinct was to leave. But I have tried over time to give people in the system with whom I’ve had a bad experience the benefit of the doubt. I believe in second changes, and when appropriate, third chances.
What transpired was a fairly weird session, which ended rather quickly. Suffice it to say that Judge Wexler signed one of the proposed orders, and I left with one signed and one unsigned.
For reasons that have never been clear to me, documents signed by the signing judge are handed back to the lawyer (or police officer) to walk them to filing. I can tell you now from experience that this is a bad system. Why would we want to spend any time in this system arguing about what the signing judge signed? Why doesn’t the signing judge keep a copy like all other ports of call?
So anyway, I handed the documents to a court clerk at filing and thought nothing else of it.
As it turns out much was happening behind the scenes.
For purposes of this post, after talking to Judge Zimmerman and his clerk(s), Judge Wexler filed a complaint with the Minnesota Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility against me.
Even after reading the complaint, it took me some time to figure out what it was about.
The complaint alleged that in the document I had walked to filing, I had “mix[ed] up the pages.”
Wexler stated, “When the [documents] were presented to me, I am almost 100% sure they were each stapled. So to mix them up Ms. Clark would have had to remove the staples and restaple them.”
Apparently the complaint was that I had purposely unstapled a document in order to mix up the pages.
Even at best, this was a strange complaint.
But here’s how it’s played out so far:
Craig Klausing of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility “investigated” the complaint. This consisted almost entirely of him asking me two questions.
And then he charged me.
The litigation started gearing up, and Judge Wexler’s deposition was noticed.
The original document that I was said by Wexler to have purposely unstapled and then re-stapled was brought to a deposition by Judge Zimmerman in an envelope. The envelope was held by the prosecutor (Craig Klausing) of the OLPR until Judge Wexler’s deposition. Then it was opened in front of all of us there.
I took a picture of it.
Judge Wexler looked at the document, and admitted under oath that there was no evidence of a staple having been removed, and the document re-stapled. (Not verbatim.)
So…what happened to their case?
I was present and saw Craig Klausing hanging his head so much it almost touched the table. He would not look me in the eye.
You’d think Klausing would have dismissed this charge at that time.
But the case has trudged on.
I still am having difficulty figuring out how they can get (even in theory) from mixing up pages, to an ethics violation.
During one of the hearings, it became clear that Mr. Klausing or staff under his control had mixed up numerous pages in one of the hearing exhibits. I actually spent some time following the hearing sorting them out so that an accurate copy would go to the Judge. Apparently when Klausing mixes up pages, that’s not an ethics problem.
We live in a world of poignant double standards.
Interestingly, Judge Wexler stated in his complaint to the OLPR, “I expect that Ms. Clark will argue that our history of conflict per the 2002 election has some bearing.” I didn’t say it. He did.