Saturday, August 23, 2014

Punishment for former Tax Court Judge George Perez stands

The Minnesota Supreme Court agreed with the Board on Judicial Standards. Former Tax Court Judge George Perez should be censured and his case should be forwarded to the Wisconsin Office of Lawyer Registration.

The Supreme Court also said it would supervise any future application Perez submits to the Minnesota Bar.

In November 2012, the BJS filed a disciplinary petition against Perez alleging that he failed to issue his opinions in a timely manner, falsified court records to show he had no cases pending, refused to accept new cases and demonstrated a “pattern of delay” in issuing decisions

Chief Justice Lorie Gildea appointed a three member panel to hear the case. That body ruled the BJS proved two of the claims by “clear and convincing evidence”, but did not prove two others.

Among other findings, the panel concluded Perez made “a substantial number of false certifications over an extended period of time.”

For punishment, the panel recommended a nine month suspension, a prohibition on serving out the rest of the term and for Perez to submit monthly status reports on his pending cases. The BJS pushed to have Perez removed from office, effectively ending his judicial career.

None of that mattered however because Perez was up for reappointment. In the waning days Gov. Mark Dayton recommended he not be confirmed. The Minnesota Senate vote was unanimous and Perez’s tenure as a Tax Court judge ended.

But Perez appealed the panel’s decision arguing it was moot because he was no longer a Tax Court Judge and secondly, he argued the BJS did not prove its case. He also claims the damage has been done. He also argues that any discipline should be mitigated because since January 2012, the time when he engaged with the BJS’ investigation, all of his decisions were decided within the three month deadline.

“Judge Perez argues we should not discipline him. He contends his removal from office… and the news media coverage of the panel’s findings constitute sufficient discipline for his misconduct.”

The Supreme Court disagreed with Perez and affirmed the discipline handed down by the panel. Doing so, “protects the integrity of the judicial system and should help restore the public’s confidence.”

Justice David Lillehaug took no part in the decision.




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