Embattled former judge escapes reprimand
Courts • Justices reverse punishment over warrant issued by Keith Stoney.
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An embattled West Valley City justice court judge who retired amid a flurry of complaints escaped a judicial reprimand after the Utah Supreme Court ruled in his favor Friday.

The high court reversed the state Judicial Conduct Commission committee's punishment for an excessive $10,000 cash-only warrant that Stoney appeared to order against a woman cited for a traffic violation — possibly as retribution for her rudeness to court clerks.

Keith L. Stoney said the amount was a mistake.

"The facts do not suggest that Judge Stoney issued a $10,000 warrant in response to ... rude remarks to the clerks," the justices wrote, adding there was no evidence of a pattern of excessive bail orders.

"Judge Stoney's conduct does not rise to the level of a violation," according to the opinion.

That was not the only complaint lodged against Stoney during his 10-year judicial career.

In September 2010, more than 20 people — including former computer pitchman "Super" Dell Schanze — gathered protest-style to call for Stoney's ouster, saying he'd violated their civil rights and doled out harsh punishments to those who asserted their innocence.

When he retired in September, Stoney was under fire for wrongfully jailing a woman for recording part of a hearing in 2010.

After twice warning him in other cases, the Judicial Conduct Commission recommended Stoney be reprimanded after he apparently issued the warrant for Barbara Acord's arrest.

She had been cited for driving with an expired registration and no insurance in 2009, but failed to pay the ticket or appear in court. When she got a delinquent notice, Acord called the court and was rude to clerks, accusing them of "twiddling their thumbs" while her tax dollars paid their salaries, according to the ruling.

The clerk who entered the warrant said she did so after seeing a handwritten note for a warrant from Stoney placed on her desk. While she said she thought the amount was "overkill . . . kind of like a point was trying to be made," she also testified that she didn't know whether Stoney had heard about the rude remarks. Acord was never arrested on the warrant and it was recalled when she appeared in court in August 2010.

The note was never found.

lwhitehurst@sltrib.com

Twitter: @lwhitehurst