Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Friday, December 16, 2005


Page 1


CJP Rejects Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge’s Bid For Dismissal of Misconduct Proceedings


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The Commission on Judicial Performance has denied Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Diana R. Hall’s motion to dismiss the misconduct charges against her, officials announced yesterday.

The commission released an order signed by its chairman, Santa Monica attorney Marshall Grossman, denying the motion, which was based on Hall’s  claim that the integrity of the proceedings had been hopelessly compromised.

The commission also formally petitioned the Supreme Court to relieve the special masters who had been hearing the case and appoint new masters, an action the CJP originally requested last month.

On Nov. 23, the commission took the apparently unprecedented action of halting proceedings after three days of testimony regarding the charges against Hall, a judge for nearly 15 years.

Hall is accused of drunk driving—for which she was convicted in criminal court and placed on probation—as well as filing campaign finance reports in which she allegedly lied about the source of a loan or contribution, and threatening a prosecutor who had her disqualified from a case.

The campaign reporting violation was also the subject of a criminal case, but the Attorney General’s Office, which was assigned to prosecute, agreed two months ago to suspend proceedings and to a dismissal of the charges if Hall has no new arrests.

The commission sought appointment of a new panel based on the filing of a declaration in an unrelated civil action in Monterey County. The plaintiff in that case, Eugene Forte, is suing several Monterey Superior Court judges for violating his civil rights, claiming they had him jailed because he intended to file a Code of Civil Procedure Sec. 170.6 motion to disqualify one of the judges from another case in which he was a party.

One of the masters in the Hall case is Monterey Superior Court Judge Michael Fields. Fields is not a defendant in Forte’s lawsuit, but the declaration, by former Monterey Superior Court clerk Crystal Powser, alleges that she discussed the Hall case with Fields and that he told her that he and his colleagues—San Mateo Superior Court Judge Mark Forcum and Santa Clara Superior Court Judge George Abdallah—were convinced that Hull was culpable as to at least some of the alleged conduct.

All three judges have declined to comment on the allegations.

Powser claims she met with Fields in his hotel room in Ventura, at his invitation, the day before her declaration was filed in the Monterey case and that they discussed the Hall case. She also claims the judge made sexual advances towards her, which she spurned.

The commission emphasized in its order that Powser’s allegations are unproven.


Copyright 2005, Metropolitan News Company