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Letter: Require open hearings of record for allegations of misconduct

Published: Sunday, Nov. 4 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

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I find it morally repugnant that Justice Court Magistrate Keith Stoney is being permitted to "retire" to avoid a hearing on multiple allegations of misconduct while on the bench. In the end all allegations will be dropped, and he gets a clean record. It will be as though the reported misconduct never happened and the fines and incarcerations ordered by him were moral and proper.

The public deserves better. The legal community has created an alternate universe in which to live and work. Allegations of misconduct are not aired in open hearings, reprimands are often not public or disclosed in full, and legal recourse by victims of misconduct is non-existent or inadequate.

The press walks a fine line in reporting allegations of misconduct as reporters could be subject to contempt of court by the offended magistrate. To fight the results of misconduct, the victim must shoulder the expense of a legal battle that few of us can realistically afford.

I suggest that the Legislature take measures to require open hearings of record for allegations of misconduct. The victim needs to have recourse for monetary and punitive damages against gross misconduct. Arbitrary and capricious denial of liberty (jail) and property (fines) by people in authority should not be taken lightly by the public nor the Legislature.

David R. Shorten

Salt Lake City

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