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Published March 20, 2013, 02:36 PM

Formal Harassment Complaint Filed Against Cass County Judge

A formal complaint has been filed against a Cass County judge with the Judicial Conduct Commission, accusing him of sexually harassing and creating a hostile work environment for a court reporter who worked under him, an official with the disciplinary board of the Supreme Court said today.

BISMARCK – A formal complaint has been filed against a Cass County judge with the Judicial Conduct Commission, accusing him of sexually harassing and creating a hostile work environment for a court reporter who worked under him, an official with the disciplinary board of the Supreme Court said today.

The court reporter has since been assigned to a different set of judges, one that does not include Judge Wickham Corwin, an East Central District Court judge elected in 2008.

The State Court Administrator’s Office investigated last spring the claims that Corwin had created a hostile work environment in repeated attempts to communicate with the woman, who he had hoped to have an affair with, the judge admitted to investigators.

The court reporter saw conversations that Corwin said were meant to clear the air as attempts to intimidate her because she didn’t go along with his advances.

Investigators found that while Corwin hadn’t intended to threaten his court reporter, that had been the effect of his actions.

“I made mistakes – but I certainly didn’t do any of the serious misconduct alleged,” said Judge Corwin. “The fundamentals haven’t changed a bit – I thought it was behind us,” he said.

Corwin said with formal charges being filed, he’d finally had a chance to see what the specific accusations against him were. Corwin said he’d prepared a formal response to the charges and that it would be filed with the commission.

Brent Edison, assistant disciplinary counsel for the disciplinary board of the state Supreme Court, said that he had not seen the judge’s response to the case against him. He said once that was filed, a hearing date would be set in the case.

A hearing panel made up of two members of the public, a judge and an attorney will hear the case, in which both sides will present evidence.

Edison said the burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove with “clear and convincing evidence,” which he said was somewhat higher than the “prepondance of evidence” required in a civil case but still lower than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” required in a criminal matter.

Edison said that possible sanctions included censure of the judge by the Supreme Court, a recommendation by the Court to limit the judge’s duties, suspension, removal or retirement.

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