Case Caption: In re: The Honorable Leon A. KendallCase Number: S. Ct. Misc. No. 2009-0025Date: 10/12/2011Author: Per CuriamCitation: Summary:

In proceedings pursuant to an order requiring a judge of the Superior Court to show cause why he should not be held in criminal contempt for obstructing the administration of justice, failing to comply with a prior opinion and order of the Supreme Court, and for misbehaving in official transactions as an officer of the court, the findings, conclusions and recommendations of the designated special master are accepted in part and rejected in part, in de novo review by the Supreme Court: (1)-While a judge does not surrender First Amendment rights upon becoming a member of the judiciary, in this case inflammatory remarks and other characterizations in a published opinion by the Superior Court judge rose far above the level of reasoned disagreement, and created more than substantial likelihood of obstruction. Criminal contempt of court which obstructs the administration of justice includes all willful misconduct which embarrasses, hinders, or obstructs a court in its administration of justice or derogates the court's authority or dignity, thereby bringing the administration of law into disrepute. In this case the Superior Court judge is guilty of indirect criminal contempt through obstruction of the administration of justice. (2)-A trial court must implement both the letter and the spirit of an appellate court's mandate, taking into account the appellate court's opinion and the circumstances it embraces. Where the reviewing court's mandate prescribes proceedings in accordance with its opinion, the opinion is part of the mandate. The special master's finding that the People proved beyond a reasonable doubt that this judge refused to proceed to trial, refused to consider a change of venue, and refused to consider a continuance, as required under the Supreme Court's underlying opinion and order, warrants finding him guilty of indirect criminal contempt for failure to comply with that prior opinion and order. (3)-A Superior Court judge has an obligation under the Code of Judicial Conduct to act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and has the ministerial duty to follow all the decisions of this Court-established as the Territory's court of last resort-as binding precedent regardless of his personal views of their correctness. Based on the findings of the special master, the Superior Court judge is found guilty of indirect criminal contempt for misbehaving in his official transactions. The People proved beyond a reasonable doubt that this judge is guilty of indirect criminal contempt, and this matter shall be set for a sentencing hearing.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion