First Judicial District Judge Michael Sovis has been publicly reprimanded by the Board on Judicial Standards and fined $1000 for improper treatment of a member of the public who was engaged in a dispute with a friend of Sovis and Sovis’ spouse. According to the board, Sovis personally instituted contempt proceedings against the man and personally ordered him arrested. The board stated that Sovis did not advise the man that he had the right to an attorney or a trial.
The Board concluded that Judge Sovis’ actions were contrary to the Minnesota Code on Judicial Conduct, Canons 1, 2A, 2B, 3A(4) 3A(5), 3A(7), 3A(9),3D(1) and Canon 4A, as well as the Rules of the Board on Judicial Standards, Rules 4(a)(5) and (6). The board said that Sovis’ conduct did not uphold the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary, gave the appearance of impropriety, violated his duty of impartiality, did not conduct his extra-judicial activities in a way that did not conflict with his judicial obligations, and engaged in conduct that brings the judicial office into disrepute.