Tuesday, December 30, 2014
CJP Charges Tulare Judge With Improper Conduct Toward Clerk
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Commission on Judicial Performance yesterday instituted formal proceedings against Tulare Superior Court Judge Valeriano Saucedo, accusing him of improper conduct toward his clerk.
In a statement, the commission said:
“The formal proceedings concern the judge engaging in a course of conduct toward his courtroom clerk that included using an anonymous letter accusing her of an affair and furnishing her with numerous gifts. The actions are alleged to have violated several canons of the Code of Judicial Ethics.”
No improper physical conduct is alleged.
The gist of the accusations is that the judge sought to ingratiate himself to his female clerk—whom he described as “gorgeous and in fine shape”—in order to be regarded by her as a “special friend.”
The series of incidents that are alleged began in mid-September, 2013, with the judge showing the clerk a letter that was purportedly sent to him at his home by an anonymous person alleging that she had been involved in an extra-marital affair with a male bailiff. He purported to act to protect her, including placing a call to her husband’s employer to cause his copy of the letter intercepted and destroyed.
The notice declares:
“You did not make any such call to the clerk’s husband’s employer. (No copy of the letter was ever received at the husband’s place of employment.) You have denied authorship of the letter. Allegedly, you prepared the letter and sent it to your home address.”
The Notice of Formal Proceedings quotes at length from messages sent via texting, including one in which he said:
“Simple things make a difference. Love, kindness and respect everyday.”
According to the allegations, the clerk sent Saucedo a text message on Nov. 3, 2013, saying that she was going to tell her husband “absolutely everything from the letter, financial gifts, the trips, the car….” After further exchanges of messages, she said she wanted the texting to end.
He responded that he was “in the garage committing suicide” by running the car with the windows down and asked her to phone; she sent another message that she would not say anything to her husband; he responded that he would fulfill remaining financial commitments, adding:
“Your text was timely because I was ending my life.”
End of Friendship
The notice details gifts of money to the clerk, as well as the judge making periodic payments on the purchase of a car for her. It tells of the finale to the relationship in 2013, alleging:
“On November 6, you paid $14,000 for the balance of the BMW. On November 12, you deposited $200 into the clerk’s savings account.
“On November 18 (Monday), the clerk told you that she needed some money for the expenses for the upcoming family Disney trip (December 11-13), which you had previously said you would provide. She said she needed it by Wednesday. She also told you that she was going to go to Human Resources and ask to be transferred out of your department. The next day, November 19, you deposited $8,000 in the clerk’s account and handed her a letter in open court shortly after the lunch break, which you asked her to read. The letter enclosed the deposit slip and impliedly accused her of extortion.”
Saucedo, who sits in Visalia, has 20 days within which to file a written answer.
The commission has the power to remove, censure, or publicly or privately reprove a judge.
Saucedo was mayor of the City of Lindsay in Tulare County when appointed to the Superior Court in 2001 by Gov. Gray Davis.
From 1985 to 1993, he was statewide director of California Rural Legal Assistance.
Copyright 2014, Metropolitan News Company