Anoka judge removed from bench over residency questions

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Judge Alan F. Pendleton
Judge Alan F. Pendleton
Courtesy of the Minnesota Judicial Branch

Updated 2:10 p.m. | Posted 11:24 a.m.

The Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday removed a judge from office for violating the job's residency requirement and then lying about it to voters.

The court ruled that Anoka County District Court Judge Alan Pendleton lived outside of the Tenth Judicial District for the first five months of 2014 and also used a false address when filing an affidavit of candidacy.

Pendleton's chambers were in Anoka. The Board on Judicial Standards filed a formal complaint against Pendleton last year that said he was living in Minnetonka, which is in the Fourth Judicial District.

The state constitution requires a sitting district court judge to live in the district. The Minnesota Supreme Court has removed judges for misconduct three other times.

In its decision, the court wrote that Pendleton violations were "very serious" and that removing him from office was "the only sanction adequate to ensure that the people of Minnesota can have continued faith in the integrity of their justice system."

The judge's removal is effective immediately.

Pendleton was appointed to the job in 1999. He was elected in 2002 and re-elected in 2008 and 2014.

His attorney, Douglas Kelley, said Pendleton loved being a judge and will figure out a way to move forward.

"He is profoundly disappointed that he won't be able to contribute to the judiciary anymore," Kelly said. "He respects the Supreme Court. Obviously he will abide by the decision, and as on today, his life will take a new direction."

In responding to the board complaint last year, Kelly wrote that Pendleton denied the allegations and had followed the residency requirements "as he understood them." Kelley also noted that Pendleton was dealing with several family issues during that time.

Associate Justice David Stras disagreed with the sanction. He wrote in a dissent that Pendleton should have been censured and suspended for six months.

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