Gaffe-prone Hennepin County Judge Stephen Aldrich, reprimanded just last month for improper personal conduct in a 2008 murder trial, is calling it quits.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed off on disability retirement for the judge a few weeks ago. That's a nice golden parachute for a guy who once called potential witnesses in a murder case a bunch of drunkards.[jump]
WATCH, the courtroom watchdog group, called for Aldrich's resignation last year.
"This is a judge with a long history of inappropriate conduct and poor decorum," executive director Marna Anderson told us.
In the 2008 court case, he told a defendant, "I don't know if you're stupid or evil."
He accused a prosecutor in the case of grandstanding for the press. "Have you finished writing your headlines for the press yet?" he asked.
When a clerical error was brought to his attention, he deadpanned, "With all the women running for president, there's no one left to make things right."
He referred to several possible witnesses as "a bunch of drunkards.
In a different case, after reviewing a domestic violence order for protection, he said, "I've been married 45 years. We've never considered divorce, a few times murder, maybe."
Aldrich apologized for the remarks, saying he thought they were humorous attempts to cut through courtroom tension.
Not funny, said the Minnesota Board on Judicial Standards last month:
These unnecessary remarks gratuitously belittled possible witnesses, prematurely commented on the integrity or dependability of potential evidence, invited a lawyer representing one of the parties to contact the judge on an unrelated and undisclosed matter creating the appearance of improper ex parte contact and suggested in open court that one of the lawyers in the case acted disrespectfully toward the court by attempting to obtain favorable publicity.
His last day is Friday. The Strib reports he'll collect $129,000 judicial salary for a year after leaving the bench before his pension kicks in.