Undated mug of Judge Timothy Blakely.

The Minnesota Board on Judicial Standards is recommending a Goodhue County district judge be removed from the bench for referring dozens of divorce cases to his personal attorney for mediation, an arrangement that allegedly netted him huge savings off his legal bills.

Two of the 10 board members dissented, calling instead for Judge Timothy Blakely's suspension.

The board's decision will be referred to the state Supreme Court, which will determine whether to accept it, reject it or impose another disciplinary action.

"We're looking forward to having the process move to the next step and to continue to urge our position on the Supreme Court," said Blakely's attorney, Thomas Kelly.

Blakely was elected in 1998 and re-elected in 2004. He has chambers in Goodhue County but also hears cases in Dakota County and the five other counties of the First Judicial District.

Responding to a complaint filed by Blakely's former wife, the board opened an investigation in April 2007 into allegations he had used his position as a judge to benefit himself by referring divorce cases appearing before him to the St. Paul firm of Collins, Buckley, Sauntry and Haugh. Blakely was $109,000 in debt to the firm, but two-thirds of his debt was forgiven after the firm received 36 referrals.