In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Who Will Be Left On Minnesota Supreme Court To Hear Appeal?

Regarding Dietzen, Hamline University Prof. David Schultz tells us that the case for recusal points towards yes.

Schultz agreed with me that there's no immediate evidence that Dietzen has actually behaved in any biased manner in this case. "But here's where the issue changes a little bit," Schultz explained. "If it's now starting to run on the blogs at this point, that perhaps he's got a conflict because of the contributions, the Minnesota codes of judicial conflict address not just actual conflict but the perceptions of conflict."

"That's not saying he shouldn't have recused himself before," said Schultz, "but that suggests to me he may have more of an appearance of conflict or bias than he would have before."

As for Page, Schultz doesn't think there's any real conflict here. "That's too distant," he said. "Statutorily, he had to appoint the district court, so that will have no bearing whatsoever."

Schultz further noted that the decision to recuse is made by the individual judges themselves, and they're usually very good at self-policing. As for himself, Schultz said what he would do if he were under the circumstances Dietzen is in: "If I were sitting on the bench in that matter, I would recuse myself, because at this point there is a paper-trail record of political contributions to a party in the case."

We're getting into an interesting conundrum here, which doesn't have a clear answer outside of some obvious calls: At what point is a judge ethically permitted to have his or her own private opinions, and where does the judicial system demand more?