County judge removed after Supreme Court finds he didn't live in his district

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A judge in Anoka County was removed from his post after the state Supreme Court ruled that he hadn't lived in his judicial district for months, and knowingly lied about it.

According to the Supreme Court's ruling (which you can read in full here), Judge Alan Pendleton didn't live in the 10th Judicial District for nearly five months, from Jan. 15 through June 2 of 2014.

Judges are required by the Minnesota Constitution to live in the district they serve when they take office and while holding the job. Pendleton's district comprises Anoka, Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Pine, Sherburne, Washington, and Wright counties.

A state board initially made the ruling last fall, as the Star Tribune reported. In January of 2015 a three-person panel reviewed it, according to the Supreme Court's decision, agreeing with the conclusion and recommending he be censured and suspended without pay for at least six months.

Pendleton appealed, arguing the board didn't prove conclusively that he was guilty of misconduct, and saying he didn't get due process because of "irregularities" during the process.

The Supreme Court disagreed, and in the opinion it says the board proved "by clear and convincing evidence" that Pendleton didn't live in his district, and knowingly made a false statement about it.

"Appropriate" discipline, the court says, is removal from office.

The back story

The whole thing centers on Pendleton selling his Anoka townhouse in late 2013, then staying with his wife in Minnetonka – outside the 10th Judicial District. He argued it was clearly only temporary after unexpectedly having to move, and he intended to move back.

But the Supreme Court says Pendleton didn't appear to take reasonable steps to look for another housing option in his district, and also listed his Anoka home as his residence while running for re-election six months after he sold it – a sign he meant to keep the move a secret.

One member of the Supreme Court, Justice David Stras, dissented in part, saying he agreed with all the findings but thought removing Pendleton from his position was too steep a punishment.

Pendleton, according to hie website, was appointed to the district court bench in 1999.

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