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Fillmore County District Court: Mortens attorney asks that Judge Benson be removed

Fri, Oct 10th, 2003
Posted in Features

The attorney for Trevor Morten has filed a petition with the Minnesota Court of Appeals asking that Judge Robert Benson be removed from the case.

Morten is charged with second degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Tim Loeding on August 29 outside Mortens Spring Valley Township home. Morten, a convicted felon, is also charged with two felony counts of Discharge of Firearm and Felon in Possession of Firearm.

Morten appeared in Fillmore County District Court on September 4 for a Rule 5 hearing. At that time Benson ordered Morten to undergo psychiatric evaluation at the St. Peter Security Hospital to see if Morten was able to participate in his own defense. Benson continued the Rule 5 hearing to a later date.

Around mid-September Mort-en hired Attorney Chris Ritts of Minneapolis to represent him. On September 16, Ritts asked that Benson remove himself from the case. Typically, an attorney has the right to ask a judge to be removed from the case before the trial or hearing starts. After that period, the defense attorney must show cause for why the judge needs to be removed. Benson, however, refused to step down stating that Ritts request wasnt timely in meeting the state statute requirement.

Ritts then filed the petition to the state Court of Appeals. No reasons for Bensons removal were given.

As of this writing, Judge Benson is still the judge of record and is scheduled to continue Mortens Rule 5 hearing on October 27. Morten has been released on $100,000 conditional bail.

In other developments, Judge Benson has ordered that the Mayo Clinic/St. Marys Hospital release medical records of Morten for when he was being evaluated at the medical facility following his arrest. Fillmore County Attorney Patrick Oman wrote in his request to Judge Benson that Mortens mood swings at the time of the incident are similar to behavior shown by methamphetamine users.

Fillmore County vs.

Eli Slabaugh

A trial date has been set for a zoning dispute between Eli Slabaugh of rural Canton Township and Fillmore County. The trial will begin in Fillmore County District Court in Chatfield on December 10.

The dispute centers around the location of Slabaughs house, which was built 300 feet from the survey line of a rock quarry, in violation of Fillmore County zoning setbacks. Slabaugh contends that the site was approved by the Fillmore County Zoning Administrator.

Slabaugh is being represented by Edina lawyer Philip Villaume. Villaume was involved in representing the Amish in the late 1980s over the slow moving vehicle signs court case.

Charges Dismissed

Felony charges of Fraud - Financial Transaction Credit Card against Chad Sorenson of Preston have been dismissed by the Fillmore County Attorneys office.

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