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New Judge To Take Over Northwest Iowa Book Burner Case

paul_dorr_03-26-2019.jpg
Katie Peikes
/
IPR
Paul Dorr from Rescue The Perishing sits at his pretrial conference in Sioux County, 03-26-2019.

A northwest Iowa man who recorded himself on video burning books from the Orange City Public Library has appeared in court. Paul Dorr will face a new judge when his case continues because the one originally assigned feels he has a conflict of interest.
Magistrate Dan Pluim is a patron and former board member of the Orange City Public Library, so he wanted the case taken over by a different judge.

Sioux County Attorney Thomas Kunstle represents the state in the case. At a pretrial conference Tuesday, he said Pluim’s library connection doesn’t require him to recuse himself, but it could be seen as a conflict of interest.

“So I think the magistrate acted appropriately in bringing these facts to the party’s attention,” Kunstle said.

Paul Dorr of Ocheyedan, who runs the religious group Rescue The Perishing, has pleaded not guilty to fifth-degree criminal mischief after burning four LGBTQ children’s books on video in October. He has a history of activism against judges and is worried the new one assigned to his case could be biased against him.

“I may be at risk of landing with one that’s the target of my political activities in the past,” Dorr said.

Before Pluim entered the order disqualifying himself from the case, he said he agreed he is not required to excuse himself but he also feels “there is a certain appearance of impropriety” in Dorr’s actions.

The trial is currently set for the end of April, but could be moved once a new judge is assigned.

Katie Peikes is IPR's agriculture reporter