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Groups Call for Price Judge to be Impeached, Reprimanded

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BRIAN TURNER VIA CREATIVE COMMONS
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Two activist groups want Carbon County Juvenile Court Judge Scott Johansen to be punished for his decision to remove a baby from the custody of a same-sex couple because the couple is gay.

Johansen backed off his controversial order on Friday, permitting foster parents, April Hoagland and Beckie Pierce to retain custody of the child. He also removed himself from further involvement in the case. But Josh Kanter, chair of Alliance for a Better Utah’s Board says the judge has made a habit of outrageous courtroom decisions.

“You know, if you were a defended in Judge Johansen’s court room, you’d probably be subject to a three-strike rule and at least publicly this is the fourth strike against him,” Kanter says. “And there’s no corollary to that three-strike rule on the other side of the bench.”

Kanter’s group is asking members of the Utah legislature to initiate an impeachment process.

Meanwhile, officials with national LGBT rights advocacy group The Human Rights Campaign are asking Utah’s Judicial Conduct Commission to investigate Johansen’s actions. In Utah, discrimination is a violation of the judicial code of conduct.   Sarah Warbelow is HRC’s legal director. 

“Our goal is not to damage anyone’s job,” Warbelow says. “What we want is for people to take their jobs seriously and to do them within the confines of the law.”

Officials with the Judicial Conduct Commission say they investigate every complaint they receive. 

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