In case you missed Brett Boese's excellent story today on Judge Walters' public rebuke by the Minnesota Board of Judicial Standards, here's the link to the PDF of the board's reprimand. There's amazing detail here about why the judge got rapped.
Here's one of the reasons for the reprimand, and presumably related to the requirement that the judge get some anger management training:
III. Refusal to Allow Defendant to Withdraw Plea.
10. In State v. Martin, the prosecutor and the defendant, represented by Assistant Public Defender Christina Moriarty, entered into a written plea agreement whereby Martin would plead guilty, the maximum jail sentence would be 45 days, and Martin would have the right to withdraw the guilty plea if the court did not approve the agreement. At the May 1, 2012 sentencing hearing, Judge Walters ordered Martin to serve 67 days in jail. Judge Walters stated: “Assuming you earn maximum good time credit, that would compute down to 45 days actually served.” The following exchange then occurred:
The Court: Ms. Moriarty: The Court: Ms. Moriarty:
Your honor, I would ask for a moment to discuss this with my client. I believe the agreement was specifically for 45 –
He’s remanded. – days –
I’m the Judge.
I understand that, but I would just like to find out if he wants to withdraw the plea.
TheCourt: He’s not going to withdraw the plea. Agreements for recommendations are just that.
Ms. Moriarty: It was an agreement though. It’s for – it states – it says the state agrees. It’s says agrees to 45-day jail cap so I –
The Court: Did I sign that? Was I a signatory on that – Ms. Moriarty: No. But, Your Honor –
The Court: Was I a party to that contract?
11. Moriarty attempted to point out that the plea agreement provided that if the court did not approve the agreement, the defendant had the right to withdraw his plea of guilty and have a trial. Judge Walters stated:
The Court: If he behaves himself, he will serve 45 days. Ms. Moriarty: May I have an opportunity to –
The Court: This hearing is concluded.
Judge Walters spoke to Moriarty in an angry tone of voice.
12. Later that day, Judge Walters sent an e-mail to Moriarty and the prosecutor stating that he would reduce the sentence to 45 days.
13. Judge Walters’ conduct at the hearing violated Rule 15.04, subd. 3(1) of the Rules of Criminal Procedure which provides:
When a plea is entered and the defendant questioned, the trial court judge must reject or accept the plea of guilty on the terms of the plea agreement. . . . If the court rejects the plea agreement, it must advise the parties in open court and then call upon the defendant to either affirm or withdraw the plea.
14. Judge Walters’ conduct at the May 1, 2012 hearing violated Rule 2.2 (“A judge shall uphold and apply the law, and shall perform all duties of judicial office fairly and impartially.”), Rule 2.5(A) (“A judge shall perform judicial and administrative duties competently and diligently.”), Rule 2.6(A) “A judge shall accord every person or that person’s lawyer the right to be heard according to law.”), and Rule 2.8(B) (“A judge shall be patient, dignified and courteous to . . . persons with whom the judge the deals in an official capacity . . . .”), Minnesota Code of Judicial Conduct.