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Public needs to
know if Minnesota high court biased on same-sex marriage,
lawmaker says

Public needs to
know if Minnesota high court biased on same-sex marriage,
lawmaker says

An ongoing dispute in Minnesota over who said what to whom on the same-sex marriage issue took a new turn Friday when a Golden Valley lawyer asked for official investigations into four current or former supreme court justices. Greg Wersal said a probe is needed to sort out "grave questions of ethical violations by members of the state's highest court."

The controversy stems from a secretly made recording of senate majority leader Dean Johnson telling pastors he had assurances from justices that the current state law would withstand legal challenges. Johnson was arguing a that constitutional amendment on same-sex marriage was unnecessary. He apologized to the senate Monday for making inaccurate statements about the extent of his talks with justices, but he hasn't backed off claims that some conversations took place.

Wersal asked the Board on Judicial Standards and the Lawyers Board of Professional Responsibility to investigate Chief Justice Russell Anderson, Justice G. Barry Anderson, Justice Paul Anderson, and former chief justice Kathleen Blatz. "The public needs to know if judges on our highest court have engaged in unethical conduct by giving pledges, promises, assurances, or mere hints as to how they would rule on an issue likely to come before the court," Wersal wrote in a letter to the two boards. He released the letter to reporters.

Court spokesman John Kostouros said he hadn't seen the complaint and couldn't offer immediate comment. Chief Justice Anderson has unequivocally denied any conversations occurred between Johnson and any justices on the marriage issue. The judicial standards board can dismiss a complaint, conduct an inquiry, or order a public hearing. If it finds violations, it's up to the supreme court to impose sanctions. Proceedings of the 10-member board are confidential until a hearing is demanded by the judge or judicial officer who is the subject of an investigation. (AP)

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