St. Louis municipal judge under investigation resigns, cites family reasons

Saturday, February 25, 2012 | 4:01 p.m. CST

ST. LOUIS — A St. Louis municipal court judge under investigation by the state Supreme Court commission has announced her resignation, according to her lawyer.

Alan Mandel, a lawyer for Judge Margaret J. Walsh, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Friday that Walsh is quitting to take care of her mother. Mandel said Walsh's resignation is effective Monday.

Mandel also confirmed that Walsh is being investigated by the Missouri Supreme Court's Commission on Retirement, Removal and Discipline for three incidents, including allegations of using inappropriate or abusive language. Mandel said Walsh denies the allegations.

Jim Smith, the commission's lawyer, declined to confirm the investigations, citing Missouri Supreme Court confidentiality rules. Smith said a judge's resignation would, however, end the commission's jurisdiction.

Mandel, who blamed the complaints on a long-running feud between the city counselor's office and municipal judges over rules, said in the first incident Walsh ordered a deputy city marshal to handcuff an assistant city counselor because "she interrupted a court proceeding and just wouldn't stop."

Chet Pleban, counsel for that lawyer, would not confirm her identity, but said, "Now that Ms. Walsh is no longer a city court judge, it serves no purpose to comment on the reasons for her departure, and we will let the judicial commission separate the fact from the fiction."

Another commission complaint claims Walsh, who was appointed in 2003 by Mayor Francis Slay, used abusive language toward a lawyer or lawyers.

"She categorically denies that," Mandel said.

The final complaint accuses Walsh of using her official position to make threats or promises to the city personnel office after her son was rejected for a municipal job. Mandel said Walsh was merely inquiring about her son's application, which was not "in and of itself" improper.

Rick Frank, the city personnel director, would not comment on Walsh. City Counselor Patti Hageman did not respond to a call seeking comment.

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