Minnesota judge reprimanded for Facebook posts about cases

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Ted Aljibe | AFP | Getty Images 2012

The Minnesota Board on Judicial Standards has reprimanded a senior judge for his Facebook posts about cases over which he was presiding, including one that resulted in a vacated verdict.

In its reprimand issued Friday, the board said Judge Edward Bearse's Facebook posts put his personal interest ahead of his duty to maintain the appearance of impartiality. Bearse served on the bench for 32 years before retiring in 2006, but he's served statewide as a senior judge since then and has no disciplinary history with the board.

In a Sept. 8 post, the board said, Bearse commented on the sex trafficking trial that began that day.

"I just love doing the stress of jury trials," the judge wrote. "In a Felony trial now State prosecuting pimp. Cases are always difficult because the women (as in this case also) will not cooperate. We will see what the 12 citizens in the jury box will do."

A jury found the defendant guilty two days after Bearse's post. The county attorney's office discovered Bearse's post and disclosed it to the defense, which moved for a new trial. Another judge granted the motion, vacated the verdict and ordered a new trial, the board said in its findings.

In July, Bearse presided over a felony trial, posted about it on Facebook and later recused himself upon the recommendation of the chief judge in the Tenth Judicial District.

Bearse explained to the board that he had been on Facebook for about two years and was not aware of its privacy settings. He said he didn't realize the posts went beyond family and friends and was remorseful, according to the board. Bearse stated he now realizes the posts should not have even been shared with friends.

The public reprimand, which carries no fine, is one step above a private admonishment, but below a referral to the Supreme Court for removal from office, according to the board's executive secretary, Tom Vasaly.

Bearse did not immediately return a call for comment.

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