Former Justice Todd Should Not Be Disbarred, Appeals Court Says
Apr. 13, 1985
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ Former Minnesota Supreme Court Justice John Todd, who resigned after a judicial panel found that he intended to cheat on a bar exam, won't be disbarred or limited in practicing law in the state, a court has ruled.
''It's our feeling that the matter ought to be put to rest and that John Todd ought to be able to practice law for the six to seven years until he retires,'' said Minnesota Court Appeals Chief Judge Peter Popovich in a ruling Thursday.
The Appeals Court ordered the state Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board not to pursue disciplinary action against Todd, saying that discipline against him as a lawyer is not warranted.
A three-judge panel recommended Feb. 15 that Todd, an associate justice, be removed from office for using books during a bar examination. The panel found that he intended to cheat on the test.
Todd, 58, resigned from the Supreme Court three days before a scheduled hearing March 11 on the recommendation that he be removed.
Michael Hoover, outgoing director of the lawyers' board staff, said the board should have been consulted before the decision was made.
''I'm very concerned that a decision of this magnitude was made in a case with this much publicity without even asking the agency involved,'' he said. ''This might be the right decision, but the process should have been followed.''
On Thursday, the 11 Appeals Court members considering the Todd case issued an order dismissing the complaint against him by the state Board on Judicial Standards. The court, which would have decided whether to remove Todd from office or impose other discipline, said his resignation rendered the complaint moot.
Popovich said the court followed a precedent set by the Minnesota Supreme Court in the case of former Hennepin County District Judge Crane Winton. In May 1984, Winton was removed from office for hiring male prostitutes. The court later ordered that no action be taken against his license to practice law.
The Supreme Court has final authority over whether state judges and lawyers should be disciplined. In the Todd case, the Appeals Court judges are acting as the Supreme Court because Todd's former colleagues removed themselves from the case.