Thursday, May 4, 2006
CJP Charges Judge With Delaying Decisions, Swearing Falsely
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer/Appellate Courts
The Commission on Judicial Performance yesterday charged an Alameda Superior Court judge with violating rules of conduct by failing to decide cases on time and falsely swearing that he was keeping up with time limits.
Robert J. Freedman, who was formerly the assistant presiding judge of the court, was accused in a notice of formal proceedings with willful misconduct, the most serious level of misconduct the commission can charge, along with conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice and improper action.
If the allegations are proven, he could be removed from the bench, censured, or publicly or privately admonished. While no California judge has been removed from the bench for violating the 90-day limitation on holding cases under submission, a Fresno Superior Court judge, Robert Z. Mardikian, was censured in 1985 for taking between 131 and 430 days to decide 14 cases.
Antelope Municipal Court Judge Pamela Rogers, who subsequently took disability retirement, was admonished in 1998 for having seven cases under submission for more than 90 days.
In its notice yesterday, the commission charged Freedman, 62, with having taken cases under submission for more than 90 days on 20 occasions. While 10 of those were cases in which decisions were allegedly made a few days or weeks past the deadline, the other 10 involved cases that were decided between three months and 11 months late, according to the commission.
The commission further alleged that Freedman filed approximately 30 affidavits in which he swore falsely that he had no cases under submission for more than 90 days. State law requires that every judge file such an affidavit each month and prohibits the controller from issuing the judgeís paycheck if the affidavit is not filed.
The commission also charged that while serving as supervising judge in Hayward, Freedman failed to act in a timely manner with respect to over 200 applications by allegedly indigent litigants for fee waivers, as a result the court later ordered nearly $10,000 in fees refunded.
Freedman, who is represented by Joseph McMonigle and Kathleen M. Ewins of Long & Levitís San Francisco office, has 20 days to answer the charges. The state Supreme Court will then appoint three special masters to hear evidence and make findings.
Then-Gov. Pete Wilson appointed Freedman to the old Oakland-Emeryville-Piedmont Municipal Court in 1996 and elevated him to Superior Court in July of 1998. He currently sits at the Administration Building in Oakland hearing civil cases.
He has sat on the Judicial Councilís Civil & Small Claims Advisory Committee and has been a faculty member at the California Judicial College (1998-2002). He also chaired a Committee of Bar Examiners task force on online legal education.
Before his appointment to the bench, he was in private practice with the firm formerly known as Wald, Freedman, Chapman, and Bendes in Oakland for more than 25 years. He also served as an adjunct professor of law at John F. Kennedy School of Law, and is a former president of the Alameda County Bar Association and of the Alameda County Bar Foundation in 1995.
Freedman was admitted to the State Bar in 1969. He is a graduate of UCLA and Boalt Hall.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company