Utah judge accused of religious bias against LDS Church

Judge’s comment stirs controversy

On the same day a major Salt Lake newspaper editorial board calls for the ouster of a controversial Utah judge, ABC 4 News has obtained a copy of a video-taped hearing where Judge Leslie Lewis interjects her personal opinion into a hearing on whether a child can be baptized by her father into the LDS Church.

The tape is of a hearing addressing several issues involving parent time for a father and problems between the divorced couple on arranging parent time. At the end of the discussion, Judge Leslie Lewis asks if there is anything else to discuss.

The father’s attorney brings up that he would like to baptize his daughter into the LDS Church and that the child in question had told her father that the child’s mother had refused.

Judge Lewis stated that a decision of this nature must be made jointly between parents. Then she added, “And may I add my own personal story. That same thing was done to me and I have resented it lo, these many years.”

Judge Lewis continued, saying that people are too young at the age of eight to make a decision of the magnitude of baptism. She then ruled, “The child is too young. The child will make the decision when she is twelve.”

Lewis then reiterated that the decision can be made by the parents if they decide in favor of baptism together, adding of the mother: “I doubt she will be favoring an early dunking. What’s the rush? Are they afraid the child will change their mind when they are nine years old?”

This tape comes at a time of great scrutiny being focused on Judge Lewis, who put a hunter in custody after he audibly objected to her words relative to deer hunting. There was also another case that came out earlier this week, in which the judge was accused of having an ex-parte conversation with a defense attorney, and reducing the sentence of a sex offender. The defense attorney in that case told ABC 4 News that Judge Lewis asked him at the time to “not reveal the change to the prosecution side.”


(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
Reed Cowan, ABC 4, Salt Lake City, Nov. 2, 2006, http://www.abc4.com

Religion News Blog posted this on Friday November 3, 2006.
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