Thursday, July 14, 2011
CJP Admonishes O.C. Jurist for Stereotypically Racist Remarks
By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer
The Commission on Judicial Performance yesterday publicly admonished Orange Superior Court Judge Nancy Pollard for remarks, made during trial, articulating stereotypes about two ethnic groups and their propensity to engage in certain types of domestic violence.
Pollard’s statements, the commission said, violated canons of judicial ethics by suggesting “ethnic stereotyping that is inconsistent with the fair, impartial and dispassionate administration of justice” and “do not inspire public trust and confidence in the courts.”
While presiding over a hearing on a petition for a restraining order in April 2009, Pollard, a judge since 1997,after asking the defendant where he was born, commented on some of the allegations against him.
Pollard noted she had “been doing domestic violence now for 14 years,” and “[u]sually…if I read a declaration where they say, ‘He spit on me, he threw rocks at me,’ almost always it’s a Middle Eastern client,” and “[i]f the declaration says, ‘He drags me around the house by the hair,’ it’s almost always a Hispanic client.”
Later, in that same proceeding, Pollard, in asking defense counsel to explain the relevance of a question, said “[t]he issue is he spit on her, he choked her, he pushed her, he threw protein powder all over the room, and he destroyed a lot of expensive property.” Defense counsel denied that these events took place.
At the end of the hearing Pollard issued a five-year restraining order and ordered restitution.
The Court of Appeal affirmed Pollard’s orders in an unpublished decision last August, rejecting the argument that her “inappropriate statement concerning Middle Eastern and Hispanic males” evinced a bias against the defendant, who was not of Middle Eastern or Hispanic descent. The court also said there was no evidence the judge was generally biased against males.
In a separate section of the opinion, however, the justices cautioned Pollard to “be more thoughtful in her comments concerning her previous cases and statements concerning her perceptions of race, ethnicity, or gender.”
Pollard was also rebuked by the commission for declaring a mistrial in a family law case which had been pending before her for approximately four years when the trial did not end within the five-hour period she had set for its completion in November 2005.
Writ relief was granted the following year by the appellate court, which said the “abuse of discretion in granting this mistrial [was] manifest.”
The commission said Pollard’s conduct was an improper use of her authority and dereliction of her duty to hear and decide a matter assigned to her.
All nine of the commission members who participated in the matter voted in favor of imposing a public admonishment. Orange Superior Court Judge Frederick P. Horn, vice-chair of the commission, was recused.
Pollard did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Copyright 2011, Metropolitan News Company