Steve Schild: Board should have rebuked Leahy years ago

Steve Schild: Board should have rebuked Leahy years ago

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I had mixed feelings when I read that Judge Mary Leahy has been reprimanded by the Minnesota Board on Judicial Standards.

I’m glad there’s a penalty for any public official found to have violated a professional code of conduct, as the Board on Judicial Standards concluded Leahy did.

But it’s a shame that Leahy is just now getting a public comeuppance for a violation I told the Board on Judicial Standards about more than five years ago.

In a letter dated Feb. 4, 2015, I informed the board that Leahy had used her judge’s e-mail account to rally parents against a school administration proposal to eliminate a speech class.

Four months and a day after I wrote the letter, the Board of Judicial Standards replied that Leahy’s conduct concerning the speech class “appears to be of an isolated and nonserious nature” and that “the matter may be resolved by issuing a private admonition.”

In other words, I never got the courtesy of being told whether Leahy would even get as much as a talking-to about that misuse of her official court email account.

My point, other than that I felt poorly served both as a private citizen and as a public official (I was then and am still a member of the local public-schools board), is that if the Board on Judicial Standards had issued a public penalty or a sanction with teeth five years ago, maybe Leahy would’ve been less likely to continue with what the board has concluded was additional misconduct.

If professions want to police themselves, they owe it to the profession -- and, more important, they owe it to the public the profession serves -- to do so in a firm, timely and transparent fashion. I think the Board on Judicial Standards failed to do that in the case of Leahy’s misconduct.

I urge you to read the news release about Leahy's reprimand on the Minnesota Board of Judicial Standards website.

Steve Schild, Winona

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