On Wednesday, May 29, 2024, DL-Online reported that Seventh Judicial District Judge Douglas B. Clark received a public reprimand from the Minnesota Board on Judicial Standards.

According to the news release from the Board, Judge Clark, who presides over cases in Wadena County District Court and has also assisted in Becker County, failed to remain impartial and courteous in multiple hearings. The memorandum detailing the Board’s decision also found that Judge Clark did not perform his judicial duties competently or diligently.

This was not the first time the judge’s conduct had come under scrutiny. In 2021, Judge Clark entered into a deferred disposition agreement with the Board over concerns about his demeanor in the courtroom and delays in handling cases. However, the memorandum stated that Judge Clark continued the same misconduct, violating the terms of the previous agreement.

Specific complaints about Judge Clark’s behavior included raising his voice, interrupting witnesses during questioning, and taking over examinations to the point that he appeared to advocate for one side. His lack of patience and courtesy drew criticism from attorneys, law enforcement, and county employees who felt it undermined public trust in the judicial system. The Board also argued Judge Clark stepped out of the impartial role required of judges.

When it came to competently managing his caseload, Judge Clark was faulted for failing to abide by timelines in child protection cases and holding an unnecessary hearing that prolonged permanency and adoption decisions for vulnerable children and families. At a meeting with the Board, the judge acknowledged his duty was to prioritize the best interests of children yet he failed to do so.

After reviewing Judge Clark’s disciplinary history and widespread pattern of improper conduct, the Board issued a public reprimand and imposed conditions going forward. However, the causes of his behavior issues remain unclear. The judge has committed to self-reflection to address the root problems. If misconduct persists, the Board warned more serious discipline could follow.

 

 

Source: DL-Online