Canon 1 of the Code of Judicial Ethics provides:
“A judge shall uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary.... An independent and honorable judiciary is indispensable to justice in our society. A judge should participate in establishing, maintaining, and enforcing high standards of conduct, and shall personally observe those standards so that the integrity and independence of the judiciary will be preserved. The provisions of this Code are to be construed and applied to further that objective.”
(Cal. Code Jud. Ethics, canon 1; see also People v. Zackery (2006) 146 Cal.App.4th 122, 132.)
Canon 2.A. of the California Code of Judicial Ethics declares that
“A judge shall respect and comply with the law and shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.”
An act that is legally erroneous nevertheless can constitute misconduct if it involves "bad faith, bias, abuse of authority, disregard for fundamental rights, intentional disregard of the law or any purpose other than the faithful discharge of judicial duty." (See In re Whitney (1996) 14 Cal. 4th 1, 2-3 [failure to follow the law regarding arraignment procedures]; McCullough v. Commission on Judicial Performance (1989) 49 Cal. 3d 186, 192 [willful misconduct to direct guilty verdict in criminal action and thereby deprive the defendant of fundamental right to jury trial]; Gonzalez v. Commission on Judicial Performance (1983) 33 Cal. 3d 359, 374-375 [willful misconduct to visit jury room during deliberations]; Gubler v. Commission on Judicial Performance, supra, 37 Cal. 3d 27, 47-48, 55-59 [improper collection practices involving attorney fees, improper gun sale]; Kloepfer v. Commission on Judicial Performance (1989) 49 Cal. 3d 826, 838-863 [willful and prejudicial misconduct for failing to protect the rights of defendants, and abuses of power involving contempt procedure, orders to show cause, and bench warrants]; Cannon v. Commission on Judicial Qualifications, supra, 14 Cal. 3d 678, 693-694, 122 Cal. Rptr. 778, 537 P.2d 898 [failure to follow the law regarding contempt procedures].)
A judge who commits legal error which, in addition, clearly and convincingly reflects bad faith (Broadman v. Commission on Judicial Performance, supra, 18 Cal. 4th 1079, 1091-1092), bias (Kennick v. Commission on Judicial Performance (1990) 50 Cal. 3d 297, 327-331), abuse of authority (Spruance v. Commission on Judicial Qualifications (1975) 13 Cal. 3d 778, 786-795), disregard for fundamental rights (Kloepfer v. Commission on Judicial Performance, supra, 49 Cal. 3d 826, 849-854), intentional disregard of the law (Cannon v. Commission on Judicial Qualifications, supra, 14 Cal. 3d 678, 695-698), any purpose other than the faithful discharge of judicial duty(Ryan v. Commission on Judicial Performance (1988) 45 Cal. 3d 518, 545-546), is subject to investigation. (See generally, Shaman et al., Judicial Conduct and Ethics, supra, § 2.02,at 32-37.) Mere legal error, without more, however, is insufficient to support a finding that a judge has violated the Code of Judicial Ethics and thus should be disciplined.
A judge may be disciplined for:
(Cal. Const., art. VI, § 18, subd. (d) [former subd. (c)].)
The discipline can be private or public admonishment, censure, or removal from office. (Id.)
“When disciplining a member of the judiciary, we undertake an independent evaluation of the record in order to determine whether clear and convincing evidence supports the Commission's recommendation.” (Ryan v. Commission on Judicial Performance (1988) 45 Cal. 3d 518, 530.) “In so doing, we give special weight both to the factual findings of the special masters, because of the masters' ability to evaluate the credibility of the witnesses at the hearing, and to the conclusions of the Commission, because of its expertise in matters of judicial conduct.” (Id.)
“We may censure or remove a judge for engaging in ‘willful misconduct in office, persistent failure or inability to perform the judge's duties, habitual intemperance in the use of intoxicants or drugs, or conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice that brings the judicial office into disrepute.’” (Cal. Const., art. VI, § 18(c).)
Willful misconduct, the most serious charge, occurs when a judge commits acts
(Furey v. Commission on Judicial Performance (1987) 43 Cal. 3d 1297, 1305.)
Though a judge must act in bad faith (Id., at 1304) in order to commit willful misconduct, he need not necessarily seek to harm a particular litigant or attorney; disregard for the legal system in general will suffice. (Geiler v. Commission on Judicial Qualifications (1973) 10 Cal. 3d 270, 286.) Unlike willful misconduct, the charge of prejudicial conduct does not require the presence of bad faith. (Furey, supra, 43 Cal.3d at 1304.) It occurs when a judge, though acting in good faith, engages in conduct which adversely affects public opinion of the judiciary. (Geiler, supra, 10 Cal.3d at 284.) Though ‘less grave’ than willful misconduct (Id., at 283), prejudicial conduct may nevertheless, by itself, justify removal. (Id., at 284, fn. 11.)
Persistent failure, also an independent ground for removal, focuses on a judge's legal and administrative competence and omissions. (Id.)
84 Cal. Rptr. 2d 466 (1999) 975 P.2d 663 20 Cal. 4th 371 Richard J. OBERHOLZER, a Judge of the Superior Court, Petitioner, v. COMMISSION ON JUDICIAL PERFORMANCE, Respondent. No. S064923. Supreme Court of California. May 13, 1999. Lewis, D'Amato, Brisbois & Bisgaard, James E. Friedhofer, San Diego, and Lisa K. Roberts, for Petitioner. Jack Coyle, San Francisco, for Respondent. BY THE COUR...
..ceived legal error committed by a judge; and (4) whether petitioner here, Judge Richard J. Oberholzer, committed sanctionable legal error in dismissing a criminal case after the People indicated they were not ready to proceed. As we shall explain, we conclude that the Commission has authority to issue advisory letters, that such letters are a form of discipline, that the Commission's procedures c...
May 13, 1999
SUBJECT: Motion to set aside settlement agreement Moving Party: Defendants John T.K. Muhammad and Charlotta O. Gilder Resp. Party: Plaintiff Leo Spalensky Defendant’s motion is DENIED. BACKGROUND: Plaintiff commenced this action on 10/08/14 against defendants for breach of contract and violation of Civil Code section 1950.5. On May 5, 2016, after a court trial, the parties reached a settleme...
..16, the case was dismissed with prejudice. Also on August 9, 2016, the OSC re Dismissal, that had been re-scheduled to October 11, 2016 was taken off-calendar. On May 25, 2017, the trial Judge, Hon. Mary Ann Murphy, held a Non-Appearance Case Review and recused herself pursuant to CCP § 170.1(a)(6)(A)(i). On May 25, 2017, this case was re-assigned to Dept. 34. On July 6, 2017, this Court vaca...
Feb 01, 2018
Los Angeles County, CA
Plaintiff Vinay M. Reddy, M.D.'s ("Dr. Reddy") motion for assignment to trial judge for all purposes is DENIED. In January 2015, Judge Hersher presided over a three day trail in this action regarding an Order to Show Cause re: Criminal Contempt issued against Defendants for their refusal to produce a billing database to Dr. Reddy. After the trial, Judge Hersher issued an eight page order in favor...
..records and billing database, Judge Hersher considered volumes of evidence, heard live witness testimony, and became intimately familiar with the facts and issues in this case. Moreover, Dr. Reddy argues that Judge Hersher already issued substantive rulings that will overlap with issues raised at the bench trial on February 6, such as Dr. Reddy's UCL claim and the findings in Judge Hersher's OSC...
Jan 05, 2017
Sacramento County, CA
Trayvon C. Harbor v. Mark C. Kim, et al., BS172008 Tentative decision on petition for leave to file a late claim: denied Petitioner Trayvon C. Harbor (“Harbor”) seeks relief from the claim presentation requirements of the Government Claims Act to file late claims for damages against Respondents Mark C. Kim (“Kim”), Richard R. Romero (“Romero”), Patrick E. Connolly (“Connolly”), Karen Thorp (“Tho...
..pleading is the First Amended Complaint, deemed a First Amended Petition (“FAP”) and filed on August 9, 2018. The verified FAP alleges in pertinent part as follows. In 2003, Respondents Deputy District Attorney (“DDA”) Thorp and LAPD detectives Goodman and Orneals, and non-Respondent Judge Andrews entered into a criminal conspiracy with other local officials to obstruct justice, witness tamper, t...
Feb 28, 2019
Personal Injury/ Tort
Los Angeles County, CA
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Nov 18, 2020
Placer County, CA
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