Summarized by Kent Larsen
Investigation Of Washington Judge That Disparaged Mormons Sought
Seattle WA Post-Intelligencer 25Feb00 D6
By Jack Hopkins: Seattle Post-Intelligencer Reporter
YAKIMA, WASHINGTON -- In the wake of the allegations that U.S.
District Judge Alan McDonald passes notes in the courtroom that
disparage Mormons, Jews, Blacks and other minorities, the Washington
State Bar Association has asked the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to
investigate him. "The alleged judicial misconduct strikes at the very
core of the public's trust and confidence in the impartiality and
integrity of our courts," bar officials said in their strongly worded
criticism of the judge.
Judge McDonald's notes came to light after they were provided to the
Spokane Spokesman-Review by Kathryn Blankenship, a former court
reporter in McDonald's court who was fired in 1995. She filed a
lawsuit alleging wrongful termination in 1997, which was later
dismissed. One of the Judge's notes implied that Mormons were con men.
McDonald has acknowledged writing at least some of the notes, but
says that the notes were not intended for the public and are being
misinterpreted. But the bar association still finds the notes
troubling, "The acknowledged statements about U.S. District Judge
Alan A. McDonald involving the practice of writing notes about people
appearing before the court . . . go to the very heart of the American
judicial system," the officials said. The association says that
McDonald's notes are not typical of judges, "To the contrary, the
alleged acts and behavior are highly unusual and not representative
of normal demeanor and conduct of our judges." The bar licenses and
represents the states approximately 25,000 lawyers.