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Serious discipline against embattled Utah judge unlikely, expert says

Judge Thomas Low

(KUTV) As complaints about a Utah judge pile up, questions are arising about whether he'll face any discipline.

Fourth District Judge Thomas Low is under fire for praising a former LDS bishop as an “extraordinarily good man” as he sentenced him to prison for rape.

“These comments seem to have been inappropriate,” said Paul Cassell, a former federal judge who now teaches at the University of Utah law school. “We want our judges to treat victims with fairness and dignity and respect.”

A growing chorus is now calling for Low to face discipline. But Cassell said that's unlikely.

“It’s only for very serious misconduct,” Cassell said, referring to the process whereby the Utah Supreme Court can discipline or remove a judge from office.

Low has no history of problems. In 2014, when he was up for judicial retention, Low was noted for being “polite, knowledgeable, and calm” and for “the respect he shows for courtroom participants.”

Low has served on the bench since 2009. He was appointed by Gov. Gary Herbert.

At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, 2News asked the governor for his reaction to the controversy.

“I certainly understand that we ought to respect and have consideration and compassion for any victim that's in the courtroom,” Herbert said.

When asked whether Low should remain as a judge, the governor pointed to the state's judicial review process. The Judicial Conduct Commission could investigate Low and recommend that the state Supreme Court discipline him. But those investigations are confidential and could take up to 90 days.

“If somebody wants to file a complaint, we'll see what happens from that investigation,” Herbert said. “That's not what I do.”

Through a spokesman, Low declined to comment on the ongoing controversy.

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