On Tuesday, December 19, 2023, the Idaho Statesman reported that Kootenai County prosecutor Stanley Mortensen filed a motion to have Judge Clark Peterson removed from all cases involving the prosecutor’s office. This comes after the office filed a sexual harassment complaint against Peterson with the Idaho Judicial Council in May.
The article detailed the events that led to the complaint against Peterson. In May, a female deputy prosecutor went to Peterson’s chambers to deliver some documents. When she knocked and entered upon hearing what she thought was a response to enter, she allegedly saw Peterson in a state of undress. This made her feel uncomfortable. While she initially considered it an accident, her supervisors had doubts and felt she may have been sexually harassed.
They consulted other attorneys, who said they had an obligation to investigate due to potential civil liability. The deputy prosecutor was then removed from Peterson’s courtroom temporarily. She became upset with this, denying she was victimized and accusing Mortensen of having political motivations and ruining her career. Still, Mortensen filed the complaint with the Judicial Council after a human resources review.
The Council hired a lawyer to investigate. This probe uncovered Peterson had engaged in similar behavior with other employees in the past. It also found instances of Peterson favoring attractive female defendants and unprofessional courtroom conduct. As a result, Peterson was publicly reprimanded by the Council last month.
However, Mortensen still wants Peterson removed from all their office’s cases, citing bias and concerns about his interactions with employees. Peterson denies the allegations through his attorney. His attorney also criticized the prosecutor for making the sealed complaint public through court filings. They believe it was a “political hit job.”
The story sheds light on the serious accusations against Peterson and the prosecutor’s reasons for seeking his disqualification despite the Judicial Council’s action. It will be up to the court to rule on Mortensen’s motion.
Source: Idaho Statesman