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Judge in Utah is ousted for polygamy

SALT LAKE CITY -- A small-town judge who has three wives has been ordered removed from the bench by the Utah Supreme Court.

The court unanimously agreed with the findings of the state's Judicial Conduct Commission, which recommended the removal of Judge Walter K. Steed for violating the state's bigamy law.

Steed said he was disappointed with the decision, which was issued on Friday.

''I had hoped that the court would see my case as an opportunity to correct the injustices that are caused by the criminalization of my religious beliefs and lifestyle," Steed said. Polygamy has been banned in Utah since it gained statehood in 1896.

Steed has served for 25 years on the Justice Court in the polygamist community of Hildale in southern Utah, where he ruled on misdemeanor crimes such as drunken driving and domestic violence cases.

The commission last year sought his removal from the bench after a 14-month investigation found Steed was a polygamist and had violated Utah's bigamy law. Bigamy is a felony in Utah punishable by up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines.

Steed, who also works as a truck driver, was paid a few hundred dollars monthly for serving in the part-time judicial position.

He has 32 children by the three women, who are sisters, court documents said.

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