Wednesday, March 17, 2010
CJP Sets Hearing on Charges Against Placer County Judge
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Commission on Judicial Performance said yesterday it has scheduled an April 27 hearing on charges that a Placer Superior Court judge abused his authority.
Three special masters—Fifth District Court of Appeal Justice Stephen J. Kane, San Bernardino Superior Court Judge Larry W. Allen, and Sonoma Superior Court Judge Allan D. Hardcastle—will hear evidence on the accusations against Judge Joseph O’Flaherty, 64.
The hearing is to begin at 10 a.m. in the Third District Court of Appeal courtroom on the 10th floor of the Capitol Mall in Sacramento.
The commission says that O’Flaherty violated the Code of Judicial Ethics by calling a small claims plaintiff back into court after his case was dismissed and ordering him to stay away from the defense witnesses, even though there were no allegations of harassment made during the hearing.
O’Flaherty, who requested formal proceedings rather than accept the commission’s proposal that the matter be resolved by issuance of a public admonishment, responded that his actions were reasonable under the circumstances and within the court’s jurisdiction.
Citing a videotape of the court proceedings—which involved a suit by Scott Herold, a used car dealer, claiming, among other things, that a local credit union interfered with his sale of an automobile—O’Flaherty said while there were no threats made during the hearing, it was clear that the women who appeared in court on behalf of the credit union were afraid for their safety.
O’Flaherty said the case was still pending at that point and that he acted properly in having the baliff bring Herold back into the courtroom and in ordering him to stay away from the women in order to avoid a confrontation outside the courthouse.
He noted that the proceeding took place late on a winter afternoon and it was getting dark outside. His answer to the charges was filed on the judge’s behalf by San Francisco attorney James Murphy.
Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company