updated 1/15/2008 6:15:28 AM ET 2008-01-15T11:15:28

A Nevada judge said Monday that Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich must be included in Tuesday's candidates' debate in Nevada.

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Senior Clark County District Court Judge Charles Thompson said if Kucinich is excluded, he'll issue an injunction stopping the televised debate.

The judge sided with a lawyer for the Ohio congressman, who says debate host MSNBC at first invited Kucinich to take part and then told him last week he couldn't.

A lawyer for the network said MSNBC decided to go with the top three candidates after the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries.

The judge called it a matter of fairness and said Nevada voters will benefit if they hear from more than just Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards.

NBC issued a statement saying, "We disagree with the judge's decision and are filing an appeal."

(Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal.)

The cable network and the Democratic Party are calling the 9 p.m. EST debate a chance to hear issues from Nevada's minority communities. Tim Russert and Brian Williams are moderating.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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