Tuesday, May 19, 2015
CJP Censures Former Merced Judge Marc A. Garcia, Bars Him From Assignments or Appointments
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Commission on Judicial Performance yesterday censured former Merced Superior Court Judge Marc A. Garcia and barred him from receiving assignments or appointments from any court.
The censure and bar is the maximum penalty the court can impose against someone who no longer holds judicial office.
The ruling stems from an investigation into $250,000 he received from his former law firm. The Associated Press and the Merced Sun-Star Friday reported that Garcia had resigned pursuant to a stipulation with the commission, but did not note the censure and bar.
The CJP did not issue a statement on the matter, and did not respond to press inquiries, prior to Garcia resigning.
The censure-and-bar order does not prevent Garcia from practicing law, and he told the local newspaper that he will remain in Merced and practice agricultural law. He could, however, be subjected to disciplinary proceedings by the State Bar, as have other former judges who were censured after leaving the bench.
Garcia, who was appointed to the bench by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2007, was due the money under an agreement to leave Merced Defense Associates for the bench. But he admitted that he never disclosed it to the Fair Political Practices Commission, as required by law, or to lawyers with cases in his court who had a right to know about it when opposing Garcia’s ex-partners.
The commission charged that when Garcia was appointed to the bench, his firm—which represented indigent criminal defendants and allegedly delinquent juveniles under contract to the county—agreed to pay him $250,000 at the rate of $4,518 monthly, unless the county terminated the firm’s indigent services contract before the amount was fully paid.
Garcia continued to receive payments through August 2012. The payments apparently came to light after a judicial secretary opened an envelope addressed to the judge, who then instructed her not to open his mail in the future, the CJP said.
The commission noted that the judge’s FPPC filings were sworn to under penalty of perjury. It said the failures to disclose, and to recuse himself from the firm’s cases, violated the Code of Judicial Ethics, as did Garcia’s agreeing to receive payments after taking office, for services he would not be performing and his concealment of that fact.
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