Indicted Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Faces Discipline
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Commission on Judicial Performance yesterday filed disciplinary charges against a Santa Clara Superior Court judge who has been indicted for fixing tickets for friends, relatives and sports figures.
Judge William Danser and a former Los Gatos police detective pled not guilty in October to obstruction of justice charges. The CJP reportedly launched an investigation after Danser wrote a letter to a police official, on Superior Court letterhead, asking that parking tickets issued to his son be dismissed.
A court spokesperson said Danser has been on administrative leave since the indictment.
The CJP charged that Danser “engaged in a pattern of misconduct in the handling of traffic matters on behalf of [his] friends and acquaintances, players and employees of local professional sports teams and other acquaintances of [the detective], court staff, and others” between March of 1997 to December of 2002. Among the alleged beneficiaries of the misconduct is former San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings forward and current head Colorado Avalanche head coach Tony Granato.
The CJP alleges that Danser became acquainted with Granato through his and his sons’ involvement in youth sports activities. After Granato was cited for driving 85 miles per hour in a 65-mile-per-hour zone and missed a court appearance, Danser intervened with a court commissioner to get a $648 fine reduced to $64, the CJP charged.
The judicial watchdog agency claims Danser similarly assisted 22 other individuals, including two other Sharks hockey players, the girlfriend of a Sharks player, a team executive, a Sharks broadcaster, the owner of a restaurant frequented by Sharks players, a player for the San Jose Earthquakes professional soccer team, the Earthquakes’ head trainer, the girlfriend of the team’s equipment manager, and two former professional baseball players.
In at least one case, the CJP claims, a beneficiary of Danser’s misconduct later made a donation to the Los Gatos Little League, of which the judge was then president.
The CJP also alleged Danser improperly had matters transferred to his court, told a defendant he was being sentenced to jail because his offense took place near the judge’s home, and requested special treatment for his family from traffic officers.
The judge also “engaged in a pattern of improper judicial demeanor, threats, harassment, retaliation, banishment, and related misconduct directed at attorneys, court staff and others,” which included barring them from his courtroom and verbally abusing them, the CJP said.
Danser has until Feb. 24 to file an answer to the charges. His attorney, James A. Murphy of Murphy, Pearson, Bradley and Feeney in San Francisco, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company