Throwback Thursday

20 years ago this month:

  • Pursuant to a stipulation for discipline by consent, the California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly censured a retired judge for presiding over matters involving friends and giving them favorable treatment and trying to influence other judicial officers and police in their handling of matters concerning his friends; the Commission also barred the judge from receiving an assignment, appointment, or reference of work from any California state court.  Inquiry Concerning Simpson, Decision and Order (California Commission on Judicial Performance December 9, 2002).
  • Pursuant to a stipulation for discipline by consent, the California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly censured a retired judge for (1) a pattern of inappropriate sexual conduct toward a female deputy county counsel, including writing “relax” on her hand, fastening a button on her suit in the courtroom, and kissing her in his chambers; (2) attempting to intimidate potential witnesses during the investigation of allegations regarding his sexual conduct; (3) having his bailiff handcuff a court interpreter as a joke when she was late; and (4) improperly attempting to use his office to intercede in a pending matter on behalf of an acquaintance.  Inquiry Concerning Block, Decision and Order (California Commission on Judicial Performance December 9, 2002).  The Commission also barred the judge from receiving an assignment, appointment, or reference of work from any California state court.
  • Pursuant to an agreement, the Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications publicly admonished a judge for taking action in his son’s criminal case by, after his son advised him that his son needed additional time to prepare for a hearing, obtaining the court file from the clerk’s office and making an entry indicating that the case was being continued at the judge’s request.  Public Admonition of Scheinberger (Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications December 17, 2002).
  • The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a non-lawyer judge for (1) angrily disputing traffic tickets issued to his son with the officer who issued the tickets and the officer’s superior; (2) intervening in his son’s arrest by confronting the arresting officer; and (3) returning a small claims form when it was initially filed, adjourning the hearing without notifying the plaintiffs, and recusing himself without reassigning the case.  In the Matter of Canary, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 26, 2002).
  • Based on an agreed statement of facts and joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a non-lawyer judge for (1) acting as an advocate for her grandson when police officers were executing a search warrant, questioning the officer who was in charge of the search, conveying her grandson’s denial of wrongdoing to the officer, objecting to the participation of an officer with whom she had a poor relationship, and asking why she had not been given advance notice of the search; and (2) giving a misleading reason to the police commission board for having dismissed a criminal charge against a defendant.  In the Matter of Leonard, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 26, 2002).
  • Based on a referee’s findings of fact and conclusions and a joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a judge for (1) performing legal services for a former client, using court facilities and personnel to perform those services, and failing to report the fee he received on his income tax return and to the court clerk; (2) representing his sister-in-law, his friend, and his cousin in real estate transactions, using court personnel and court facilities in some instances; (3) writing ex parte letters to the police chief to obtain information about pending matters; and (4) presiding over 2 cases after engaging in ex parte communications with relatives of the defendant in which he obtained personal information.  In the Matter of Ramich, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 27, 2002).
  • Based on a referee’s findings of fact and conclusions and a joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a part-time judge for (1) presiding over 2 cases in which a party or a member of the party’s immediate family was a client of the judge’s law firm; (2) in 6 proceedings, conveying an erroneous impression that he was presiding over a client’s matters; (3) in 3 cases, representing defendants notwithstanding that the charges originated in his court; (4) acting as an attorney in a proceeding in his own court; and (5) his clerk’s issuance of 4 notices to a defendant, over the judge’s signature, stating that a warrant would be issued for the defendant’s arrest if he did not appear in court to pay the judgment entered against him in a small claims case.  In the Matter of Miller, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 30, 2002).
  • Based on an agreed statement of facts and joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a judge for (1) contacting the police department at the request of a friend, identifying himself as a judge, and advising a dispatcher that the police should issue an appearance ticket to a defendant, rather than serve an arrest warrant; (2) in a confrontation with the highway superintendent, stating that he would impose the maximum sentence if the superintendent or a snowplow operator appeared in his court; and (3) issuing a warrant in a case charging housing code violations on property leased by his friend.  In the Matter of Kolbert, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 26, 2002).
  • Based on an agreed statement of facts and joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a non-lawyer judge for (1) presiding in numerous proceedings involving relatives and acquaintances, disposing of several cases following ex parte communications or contrary to law, and (2) sitting near her relatives in court during a felony hearing for her relative.  In the Matter of Thwaits, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 30, 2002).
  • Pursuant to an agreed statement of facts and joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a non-lawyer judge for, in 18 cases, re-sentencing to jail defendants who had not paid fines without holding a hearing or advising the defendants of their right to apply for such a hearing as required by statute.  In the Matter of Cox, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 30, 2002).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for issuing an invalid arrest warrant for the non-existent offense of “false accusations” and using the police to place the individual charged in custody even after being informed that there was no such offense.  Public Reprimand of Ochoa (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 17, 2002).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for issuing an order directing a child’s principal and teacher not to allow the child’s mother to pick up or make contact with the child even though the judge did not have the authority to issue such an order.  Public Reprimand of Ochoa (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 17, 2002).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a justice of the peace for displaying on his office door a poster that stated in bold letters “Re-Elect ‘98” and contained the caricatures and names of county elective office holders, at least one of whom was in a contested election.  Public Admonition of Ochoa (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 17, 2002).
  • Accepting the recommendation of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct based on a stipulation, the Washington Supreme Court suspended a judge for 60 days without pay and publicly censured her for delay in deciding cases and signing affidavits stating that no case assigned to her was awaiting decision after 90 days, affidavits that were a prerequisite to obtaining her salary.  In the Matter of Van Nuys, Order (Washington Supreme Court December 5, 2002).

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