Thursday, November 6, 2014
CJP Admonishes Solano Judge for Insulting Litigants
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Commission on Judicial Performance yesterday publicly admonished Solano Superior Court Judge Daniel J. Healy for making deprecating remarks about family law litigants appearing in his courtroom.
The commission rejected Healy’s defense that by employing harsh and colorful language, he was trying to motivate the parties, many of them self-represented, to do a better job as parents.
“Referring to litigants as ‘rotten,’ ‘stupid and thuggish,’ and a ‘total human disaster,’ and telling litigants their child ‘might as well start walking the streets as a hooker,’ is the antithesis of imparting the importance of respect.”
The commission rendered its decision following a closed-door meeting at which Healy, a native of the county who was in private practice for 24 years before his election as judge in 2010, contested the discipline. The judge elected the procedure under CJP rule 116, which permitted him to waive formal proceedings that would have been open to the public.
The public admonishment ends the case, because a judge who proceeds under rule 116 waives the right to petition for Supreme Court review.
Much of the commission’s criticism was aimed at Healy’s comments during the case of a mother accused of driving drunk in the middle of the night with her child in the car, and a father who was facing a criminal domestic violence case.
“I just think, to be honest with you, sometimes people are just rotten, and they can’t respect other people. Everything’s drama. It’s like they’re trying out for Jersey Shore.”
He also once warned people they’d be thrown in jail if he was “in the wrong mood” and mockingly said one “morbidly obese” father wasn’t going to get a job because he was “at risk of dying any time.”
The commission praised Healy for acknowledging before it that his remarks were inappropriate. But it also said initial response to the charges betrayed his “apparent lack of insight into the impropriety of his treatment of litigants.”
The CJP acknowledged that family law is a difficult assignment, but said that could not excuse Healy’s violations of ethical rules requiring that judges act with patience and dignity.
“However the contentious nature of the case, [it] does not relieve a judge from the duty to treat litigants in a dignified, respectful and courteous manner as required,” the commission said.
The commission also admonished Healy over a discussion he had with a judge who was hearing a criminal matter involving someone who also was a party to a case before Healy. The nature of the discussion indicated that Healy had become personally embroiled in the matter, the CJP said.
The vote to impose the public admonishment was 10-0.
Copyright 2014, Metropolitan News Company