Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Tuesday, March 9, 2004


Page 3


Alameda Superior Court Judge Charged With Offering to Pay Undercover Officer for Sex


From Staff and Wire Service Reports


A 76-year-old Alameda Superior Court judge has been charged with a misdemeanor count of trying to buy sex from an undercover police officer.

Judge Jackson T. Gifford was one of 21 men allegedly caught soliciting sex Wednesday night from a female officer disguised as a prostitute.

He was released after questioning and was back on the bench Thursday. He was charged Friday.

The Oakland Tribune reported in Saturday's edition that a female police officer Wednesday night was working in the area of San Pablo Avenue and Brockhurst Street in West Oakland, watched by backup officers in concealed positions. According to authorities, Gifford drove up in his Cadillac alongside the woman and negotiated a price of $40 for a sex act.

The judge also indicated he wanted to take the woman to his home, authorities told the newspaper.

In a pre-arranged tactic, the officer told Gifford to meet her on a nearby street, according to police. He then was arrested.

Gifford could not be reached for comment. Court official Joanne Lederman offered no comment on his arrest Saturday, but said he was “off on vacation.”

Gifford has overseen thousands of cases as a judge since 1981, including incidents involving the same charge he now faces. He was appointed to the Oakland-Piedmont-Emeryville Municipal Court by then-Gov. Jerry Brown in September 1981, after losing an election for the Superior Court the year before, and was elevated to the Superior Court through unification in 1998.

He was a sole practitioner in Oakland for 22 years before his appointment to the bench.

Gifford was married for 51 years. His wife, a political activist and community college trustee, died in December 1999.

The state Constitution permits a judge who is charged with a misdemeanor to remain on the bench pending trial. If the judge is convicted, it would be up to the state Supreme Court to decide whether the crime was one of moral turpitude, in which case the judge would be suspended without pay pending appeal and would automatically be removed if the conviction were to be upheld.


Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company