Friday, September 24, 2010
Commission on Judicial Performance Initiates Proceedings Against San Diego Judge, Censures Placer County Jurist
By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer
The Commission on Judicial Performance said yesterday that it has initiated formal proceedings inquiring into potential misconduct by a San Diego Superior Court judge and publicly censured a member of the Placer Superior Court for the second time in his career.
San Diego Superior Court Judge DeAnn M. Salcido, a former Los Angeles deputy district attorney, is facing scrutiny for allegedly videotaping proceedings in her courtroom to promote herself for a potential television show, and making deprecating remarks in open court about other judges, as well as other misconduct.
Placer Superior Court Judge Joseph O’Flaherty drew a rebuke from the commission for directing a small claims plaintiff to stay away from three defense witnesses without following the procedural steps for issuing a restraining order.
Salcido is charged with willful misconduct in office, conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice that brings the judicial office into disrepute, and improper action.
In January 2009, Salcido allegedly had her courtroom bailiff’s husband videotape her on the bench presiding over a variety of matters without providing advance notice to the litigants or their counsel, and then provided the tape to an entertainment lawyer to give to a television producer.
She also allowed the producer to film her courtroom proceedings for an entire day in May 2009, and made statements indicating she had manipulated her court calendar to schedule cases on the day of filming based on their possible appeal in promoting her for a potential television show, the commission claimed. The commission noted that procedures for videotaping courtroom proceedings are set forth in a rule of court, and said that even if the rule were complied with, it would be improper for a judge to allow such taping solely for the judge’s personal purposes.
The commission further cited 38 examples of inappropriate comments and conduct by Salcido, while she was being filmed and on other occasions, and one instance where she is accused of having violated a defendant’s due process rights by ordering the defendant taken into custody for direct contempt without complying with the legal requirements for doing so.
Salcido is being represented by attorney Heather L. Rosing, Esq., of Klinedinst PC.
Salcido was appointed to the San Diego Superior Court by then-Gov. Gray Davis in 2002. She prosecuted criminal cases as a deputy district attorney in Los Angeles from 1989 to 1992. After spending several years handling civil litigation matters with two San Diego firms, she returned to the public sector when she joined the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office at the end of 2000.
She was admitted to the bar in 1989 after receiving her law degree from UCLA, where she was the student body president.
She was challenged for re-election earlier this year by an opponent backed by a Christian conservative group that also supported challengers to other judges. Salcido received 59 percent of the vote, and the other challenged jurists were reelected.
The commission found that O’Flaherty engaged in willful misconduct—the most serious form of judicial misconduct—by calling a small claims plaintiff back into court after his case was dismissed and ordering him to stay away from the defense witnesses, without affording the plaintiff notice or an opportunity to be heard,
Small Claims Hearings
The commission said Scott Herold, a used car dealer who had filed suit against the Golden One Credit Union, had not engaged in intimidating and threatening behavior before or during the small claims hearing before O’Flaherty in December 2008, and rejected the judge’s contention that his actions were necessary to address an emergency situation.
It voted 11-0 to impose the public censure, saying that was appropriate discipline for O’Flaherty’s intentional disregard of the law, abuse of authority, embroilment, and failure to accord a litigant his right to be heard, based in part on his previous public censure.
The judge was publicly admonished in 2004 for telling potential jurors that if they had racial attitudes that would make them unfit to serve on juries trying minority defendants, it was preferable for them to lie rather than reveal those attitudes in open court.
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