Friday, December 20, 2019
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Commission on Judicial Performance yesterday issued a public admonishment to Alameda Superior Court Judge Morris D. Jacobson who—for a reason that isn’t specified—slapped an attorney’s hand, and also used crude language in a conversation with a court administrator in which he recounted sex charges against a judge in Texas.
The discipline was imposed pursuant to a stipulation. It was Jacobson’s second public admonishment,
The hand-hitting incident occurred in 2011. Receiving the whack was Deputy Public Defender Romany McNamara.
The decision and order recites:
“…Judge Jacobson asked to speak with Ms. McNamara, who came forward and placed her hand on the bench. Judge Jacobson apologized to Ms. McNamara for speaking sharply to her during the arraignment, and hit her hand, and inadvertently used enough force to leave a visible impression.”
Breach of Duty
It is remarked:
“No attorney should fear being hit by the judge, whose duty it is to maintain a courtroom free of such conduct by any of the participants. Judges have at their disposal many tools for carrying out their judicial duties; hitting an attorney’s hand is unequivocally not among them. Judge Jacobson’s conduct toward Ms. McNamara was, at a minimum, “conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice that brings the judicial office into disrepute.”
The crude remarks were spoken in 2016 in a conversation with an unnamed female administrator. Jacobson had clerked in 1986 and 1987 for a federal judge in Texas who presided over a civil rights action against a state judge who was charged with coercing female prisoners to have sex with him in return for leniency, and Jacobson, who viewed the trial, recounted the testimony to the administrator in an unrestrained manner.
“Judge Jacobson’s use of crude and inappropriate language constituted, at a minimum, improper action,” the commission said.
In 2012, he incurred a public admonishment.
He had ordered a criminal defense lawyer to “spend every waking moment” working on a case, to “work all day today, work all night” and “get up early tomorrow morning,” was publicly admonished yesterday by the Commission on Judicial Performance. She protested:
“Your Honor, I don’t need your advice on how to be competent.”
He told her:
“That is contemptuous. That is contemptuous. That was disrespectful. Take a seat.”
She remained in the courtroom for an hour. At 11 a.m., he told her to return at 2 p.m.; she apologized for her remark; required her to remain another half-hour before he accepted that apology.
In 2010, Jacobson received an advisory or “stinger” letter for abusing his authority, embroilment, and poor demeanor. As described in yesterday’s order:
“The judge ordered an attorney to his courtroom when no matter requiring the attorney’s presence was pending, chastised the attorney for a perceived ex parte communication, ordered him to remain there while opposing counsel in one of the attorney’s cases was contacted, and then conducted an uncalendared hearing.”
Jacobson was appointed to his post in 2005 by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Copyright 2019, Metropolitan News Company