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Archive for Saturday, February 25, 2006

Polygamist judge removed from bench

February 25, 2006

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— A small-town judge with three wives was ordered removed from the bench by the Utah Supreme Court on Friday.

The court unanimously agreed with the findings of the state's Judicial Conduct Commission, which recommended the removal of Judge Walter Steed for violating the state's bigamy law.

"I had hoped that the court would see my case as an opportunity to correct the injustices that are caused by the criminalization of my religious beliefs and lifestyle," Steed said in a statement.

Steed has served for 25 years on the Justice Court in the polygamist community of Hildale in southern Utah.

The commission last year sought his removal from the bench after a 14-month investigation determined Steed was a polygamist and had violated Utah's bigamy law. Bigamy is a third-degree felony in Utah punishable by up to five years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.

Friday's court decision did not address whether Steed should face criminal charges, saying only that the judge acknowledged his illegal behavior and "has given every indication that he intends to continue his 'plural marriage' arrangement."

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