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Fargo judge facing suspension won't run again

FARGO — A Fargo judge who is facing a suspension over sexual harassment allegations told fellow lawyers Thursday that he won't seek re-election.

East Central District Court Judge Wickham Corwin made the announcement in a letter to the Cass County Bar Association obtained by The Associated Press. In it, he writes that he has enjoyed the job, but not the publicity.

Corwin did not immediately respond to a message left at his office.

Corwin's term ends on Dec. 31, 2014. In his letter, he said the timing of his announcement will "give all interested people sufficient time to consider their options."

The judge was elected to the bench in 2008.

Corwin is accused of trying to start an affair with his former court reporter. The woman has never filed a formal complaint, but the issue went before a disciplinary panel of the North Dakota Supreme Court.

The state Judicial Conduct Commission has recommended Corwin be suspended for two months. The panel said in a document that it was reasonable for the court reporter to think that Corwin proposed a sexual relationship, and that the judge tried to retaliate when she rejected his advances.

The Supreme Court has yet to act on the panel's proposal.

Corwin said in a statement issued by his lawyer in October that he's disappointed by the disciplinary group's findings and is hopeful the Supreme Court will reject its recommendation. Corwin said he "should be judged on what he said and did, not what someone else imagined."

The judge said in his letter to the county bar that he was grateful to the people who have supported him in recent months.

"This has meant a great deal to me, and I will never forget it," he said.

Corwin graduated from the University of Utah with a biology degree in 1972. He earned his law degree from the University of North Dakota in 1976. He worked in private practice in Fargo from 1976 to 2008.

In his term as district judge, Corwin has presided over challenges to laws passed in the last two legislative sessions that are meant to limit abortions. The state Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday on his ruling allowing the state's sole abortion clinic to continue to use drugs to terminate pregnancies.