Wednesday, July 27, 2005
CJP Charges Santa Barbara Jurist With Driving Drunk, Lying
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
A Santa Barbara Superior Court judge convicted of drunk driving is facing public discipline by the Commission on Judicial Performance, the commission disclosed yesterday.
In a notice of formal proceedings, the commission charged Judge Diana R. Hall with three counts of misconduct. One count is based on the drunk driving conviction, another on the filing of campaign finance reports in which she allegedly lied about the source of a loan or contribuion, and the third on an incident in which the judge allegedly threatened a prosecutor who had her disqualified from a case.
Hall was allegedly drunk when she attacked her then-partner, Deidra Dykeman, during an argument at their home in northern Santa Barbara County just before Christmas 2002. Sheriff’s deputies, summoned by Dykeman, stopped Hall’s car and gave her a sobriety test, which showed a blood alcohol level of 0.18.
Convicted of DUI
Jurors convicted her of driving while impaired and driving with a blood alcohol level in excess of the 0.08 percent threshold. Suspended from the bench with pay while facing felony charges, she was reinstated after being acquitted of one felony count of dissuading a witness by force or threat and misdemeanor counts of domestic battery and exhibiting a firearm.
Another felony charge, stemming from Hall’s alleged destruction of a phone during the confrontation with Dykeman, was dropped after jurors deadlocked 11-1 in favor of conviction. Hall was placed on three years’ summary probation on the drunk driving conviction.
According to news accounts of the trial, Dykeman testified that Hall bit her, threatened to shoot one of her dogs and walked around their Santa Ynez Valley home carrying a loaded .38-caliber revolver while Dykeman was calling 911.
Hall acknowledged during her trial that she drove away from her home that night, but said she never touched a gun or Dykeman.
Campaign Finance Charge
The campaign finance charge waged by the CJP stems from a routine audit of Hall’s successful campaign for re-election in 2002. Auditors found that Hall made a $25,000 loan to her campaign five days after Dykeman wrote her a check for $20,000, which was deposited in Hall’s personal account, but which allegedly was intended by Dykeman to be a campaign contribution.
That matter was still under investigation at the time of the criminal trial. It resulted in the filing of a misdemeanor charge, trial of which is scheduled for October, Los Angeles attorney Mark Werksman, who is representing Hall in that case, told the MetNews.
According to the CJP, Hall violated the Political Reform Act and the Code of Judicial Ethics by commingling a campaign contribution with her personal funds, failing to disclose the true source of the funds deposited in her campaign account to her campaign treasurer, failing to list Dykeman as a contributor in campaign finance statements filed under penalty of perjury, and failing to notify Dykeman that she might be required to file campaign reports as a major donor.
The commission also noted that Hall testified in the earlier trial that Dykeman loaned her the $20,000 for use in the campaign. If that was the case, the CJP charges, Hall violated state ethics laws requiring that loans given for political purposes be reported to the Fair Political Practices Commission, and that judges and other public officials disclose loans received and clearly state in writing the terms of any such loan.
Werksman yesterday criticized the CJP and Santa Barbara County prosecutors for pursuing a matter he said should be resolved through civil proceedings under the Political Reform Act.
Werksman was especially critical of the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office, saying that she had been “singled out ...for prosecution for campaign finance violations [for which] any other individual in the state would have been subject to a civil penalty.” He expressed confidence Hall would be cleared of the accusations by both the CJP and the trial court.
The other charge levied by the CJP stems from a bench conference in June 2001, when Hall allegedly said to Deputy District Attorney Kevin Duffy, “I know it is not appropriate to inquire as to why the prosecutor exercised a 170.6 challenge, but why are you doing this Mr. Duffy,?” or words to that effect.
According to the commission:
“You asked if it was because that morning you had reduced three felonies to misdemeanors on a domestic violence case. DDA Duffy responded that the 170.6 was filed on a case by case basis and that a number of factors went into the decision. You asked DDA Duffy, ëDoes Tom Sneddon know you’re doing this,’ or words to that effect. Thomas Sneddon was the district attorney of Santa Barbara County. You told DDA Duffy that, ëYou will be in Tom Sneddon’s office explaining yourself for filing the 170.6 challenges,’ or words to that effect.”
Long Beach attorney Edward P. George Jr., who represents Hall before the CJP, declined to comment in advance of filing a formal response to the commission, which is due Aug. 9.
Hall graduated from California State University, Northridge, in 1972. She went on to earn her law degree from the University of LaVerne and was a prosecutor in Shasta and Santa Barbara counties for 13 years before then-Gov. George Deukmejian appointed her to the Santa Barbara County Municipal Court in 1990.
She has been a Superior Court judge since 1998.
Copyright 2005, Metropolitan News Company