Wednesday, December 28, 2005
CJP Admonishes Judge for Failure to Self-Report DUI Citation
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished San Bernardino Superior Court Judge Donald R. Alvarez for a misdemeanor driving under the influence citation, and for failing to self-report the incident to the CJP, the disciplinary body said in a written release yesterday.
Alvarez, who took the bench in 2001, pled no contest to a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence of alcohol and driving with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit of .08 percent. Alvarez’ blood alcohol level during the 2003 traffic stop was determined to be .14 percent. During his 2004 hearing, he was placed on three years informal probation, ordered to attend an alcohol program, pay a fine and comply with other conditions of probation, the CJP said.
In addition to violating the Code of Judicial Ethics by committing the offense, the judge failed to report the filing of the charges and the conviction in a timely manner, the CJP asserted. The CJP was notified of the conviction by another source, and wrote to Alvarez in May 2004.
In his August 2004 response to the commission, Alvarez said it was never made clear to him when the report to the CJP should be made. The judge said it was his intention to self-report upon completion of all conditions of his probation, including the alcohol program, which was to be completed by August 15, 2004, in order to report the complete case to the commission.
But the commission countered that Canon 3D(3) mandates a prompt report to the CJP when charges are brought, or when a jurist is convicted of a crime. Former Presiding Judge J. Michael Welch and Presiding Judge Peter Norell advised the judge that he must report as well, the CJP found, declaring “untenable the notion that the reporting obligation of canon 3D(3) would be satisfied by deferring reporting until some other occasion of the judge’s choice...”
The commission noted that the jurist “appeared truly remorseful and contrite over the incident itself, concerning which he accepted full responsibility.” Alvarez waived the right to formal proceedings, electing to appear before the commission to contest the admonishment without an evidentiary hearing.
He was represented by Long Beach attorney Edward P. George Jr.
Commission members Marshall B. Grossman, Judge Frederick P. Horn, Michael A. Kahn, Crystal Lui, Justice Judith D. McConnell, Patricia Miller, Penny Perez, Judge Risë Jones Pichon, and Barbara Schraeger voted to impose a public admonishment. Commission member Lawrence Simi is recused and commission member Jose C. Miramontes did not participate in this matter.
Copyright 2005, Metropolitan News Company