20 years ago this month:
- Adopting the recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Performance, the California Supreme Court removed a judge from office for (1) in a small claims case, entering a judgement against someone who had not been named as a party; (2) when an attorney was not present when her case was called, saying, “She shouldn’t be handling criminal cases. Here’s another example of a civil attorney who shouldn’t be handling criminal cases,” and, “she probably had something more important to do today, like go to a PTA meeting. She has a whole bunch of kids. She’s been having kids ever since I’ve known her;” (3) using in a campaign advertisement without permission, a group photo taken at the end of a court session of court staff and others who appeared before him; (4) telling a court employee she was in contempt when the employee stated she wanted to call her union representative; (5) engaging in ex parte communications with members of his family in a case in which the defendant was charged with cocaine possession, failing to disqualify himself, improperly delegating the question of diversion to the district attorney, directing alteration of a minute order to support his explanation after the Commission’s letter of inquiry, and submitting the minute order to the Commission without disclosing that he had had it altered; (6) having ex parte contact with a man with several family cases before him at the judge’s Bible study class and a men’s fellowship; (7) after several ex parte contacts, giving an unusually lenient sentence to a defendant whom the judge knew personally and who had pled guilty to drunk driving, second conviction; (8) granting a friend a chance to do community service and attend traffic school after the friend approached him at a restaurant and complained about a speeding violation; (9) counseling a probationer he had sentenced and failing to disqualify himself from a subsequent zoning case involving the man and his wife; (10) rejecting a plea bargain after telephoning the victim and the park ranger on the bench without putting them on speaker phone; (11) telephoning 25 to 30 defendant he knew to advise them to come to court after bench warrants had been issued for them; (12) stating that he had dealt with a witness “many, many times and his credibility is not too high” and that another witness would not have much more credibility because they are “both recovering alcoholics that are working hard to try to stay out of trouble;” (13) refusing to appoint a specific public defender after she expressed the desire to disqualify him; (14) his treatment of a defendant in a shoplifting case; (15) denying a dismissal motion because he thought “in the interest of justice” that a man with a drunk driving and 2 priors should go to trial and refusing to disqualify from the motion; and (16) failing to disqualify himself when a peremptory challenge was filed against him in a criminal case, setting a hearing to consider whether the defendant’s right to a speedy trial was being violated, ignoring a writ prohibiting him from presiding in the case, criticizing the district attorney, and urging the defense to seek a writ. Fletcher v. Commission on Judicial Performance, 968 P.2d 958 (California 1998).
- Adopting the recommendation of the Judiciary Commission in part, the Louisiana Supreme Court publicly censured a judge for inappropriate language and insensitive, discourteous, and impatient behavior towards those appearing in his courtroom. In re Bowers, 721 So. 2d 875 (Louisiana 1998).
- Based on an agreed statement of facts and joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for graphic and sensational campaign advertisements that lacked the dignity appropriate to judicial office and portrayed him as a judge who was biased against criminal defendants. In the Matter of Polito, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 23, 1998).
- Pursuant to agreed facts and a joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for, at his son’s home when a police officer was investigating a complaint by his son’s neighbor, angrily shouting that the neighbor was “crazy” and a “son of a b***h,” urging the officer to arrest the neighbor, accusing the neighbor of cutting tree limbs that were on his son’s property, and advising the police officer to charge the neighbor with criminal mischief. In the Matter of Stevens, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 23, 1998).
- Pursuant to a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for personally soliciting campaign contributions and improperly using the county mail system to distribute campaign materials. In re Paja, Stipulation, agreement, and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 4, 1998).