Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Unacceptable Computer Use

Also from the California Bar Journal:

[A judge]  was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years of probation with a 30-day actual suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect Oct. 29, 2009.

While sitting as a judge in the Fresno County Superior Court, [the judge] used the county’s computer system in his chambers to access porn sites. His actions occurred during business hours as well as weekends and non-business hours during the week. When confronted about his inappropriate computer use, [He] admitted he accessed sites containing sexually explicit materials over an eight-month period.

He was privately admonished by the Commission on Judicial Performance.

[The judge] subsequently ran (unsuccessfully) as an incumbent in a contested judicial election in which he involved court employees in campaign activities. He asked employees (including some subordinates) to obtain signatures on petitions to be filed in lieu of filing fees, he used court resources to distribute some or all of his requests for support, he distributed a campaign brochure with a photo of himself and judicial staff members without their consent, and he had conversations about his campaign with court employees during working hours.

In addition, during two television interviews, he denied using his court computer improperly and made other misrepresentations. He later threatened to sue the TV station if it aired the allegations and again denied them. When portions of the interviews aired, [the judge] read a statement that retracted his earlier denials.

He stipulated that his actions, which violated the Code of Judicial Ethics, also violated the law and constituted moral turpitude.

In mitigation, [the judge] had no discipline record since his 1976 admission to the bar, he displayed remorse and cooperated with the bar’s investigation, and his actions caused no harm.

The order imposing judicial discipline is linked here. (Mike Frisch)


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Interesting case. The Court spends no time whatsoever analysing or explaining why threatening a libel suit amounts to judicial misconduct. This is an interesting topic and I would have at least like to have heard their reasoning in coming to this conclusion.

I also don’t understand the procedural history here and the tremendous delay in imposing discipline. The Commission’s decision is dated 2003 but discipline was imposed in 2009???

Finally, how can it possibly be said that his actions caused no harm? He brought the judiciary into disrepute.


Posted by: FixedWing | Jun 1, 2010 11:46:00 AM

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