Anchorage judge says complaint is discrimination

Posted: Sunday, June 06, 2010

ANCHORAGE - An Anchorage judge who is Hispanic says an ethics complaint against him is the result of racial discrimination.

District Court Judge Richard Postma filed his response this week to an April Commission on Judicial Conduct complaint that accused him of having a mental illness, showing anger and failing to cooperate with other judges and staff.

Postma denies all the allegations and is asking for the complaint to be dismissed, according to his lawyer, Thomas Van Flein.

Postma, 44, who became a judge in 2007, has been put on paid leave. The Alaska Supreme Court will decide whether to reprimand him.

The commission did not specify the alleged mental illness or what led to the complaint, according to The Anchorage Daily News.

Van Flein said it stems from a complaint Postma filed against a court employee for "actions that appeared racially or ethically biased against Judge Postma and his in-court personnel."

The mental illness allegation is beyond the scope of the ethics commission, and the commission should not intervene in personality conflicts among judges that don't impact the public, Van Flein said.

"Accusing a judge of a mental illness because the judge sought corrective action for a perceived wrong, if this is what occurred, is inappropriate and an abuse of authority," he wrote.

"While the commission has historically addressed improper courtroom behavior by a judge, as it should, it has not intervened in what appears to be personality conflicts among judges or court personnel. Nor should it as this has not and could not impact the public," Van Flein wrote.

Van Flein said the rules for judges that require them to be "patient, dignified and courteous" do not apply to their behaviors toward other judges and courtroom staff.

There are 10 District Court judges in Anchorage. They mostly handle misdemeanors, search warrants and smaller civil cases.

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