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New Judge May Hear Starr Complaint

February 2, 2000

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) _ A misconduct complaint against former Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr could have a new presiding judge by week’s end.

The office of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis confirmed Tuesday that is working on a replacement for a Nebraska judge who disqualified himself from the case Monday.

U.S. District Judge Warren K. Urbom of Lincoln, Neb., said he took the unusual step, barely two weeks after his appointment because his ``impartiality might reasonably be questioned.″ He did not elaborate.

The complaint seeks an investigation of Starr’s handling of a criminal contempt case against Whitewater figure Susan McDougal and Starr’s testimony before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee regarding President Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky.

It claims that Starr wanted McDougal to give false testimony against the Clintons.

Connecticut lawyer Francis Mandanici, who has made repeated filings related to Starr’s investigation, filed the complaint. He was joined in the complaint by former Starr targets Stephen A. Smith and Julie Hiatt Steele.

Lawrence Raful, professor of judicial ethics at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., said he was puzzled by the self-disqualification of a judge he described as ``first-rate and above reproach.″

``I was very disappointed,″ said Raful, who first met Urbom in 1988. ``He is as outstanding a judge intellectually and has as much integrity as any judge I have ever met.″

U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright of Little Rock had asked the 8th Circuit to appoint a judge to the case because all the judges in Arkansas’s Eastern District _ based in Little Rock _ have declined to handle it.

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