Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Wednesday, December 9, 2020


Page 3


Retired Superior Court Judge Receives CJP’s Severe Public Admonishment


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The Commission on Judicial Performance yesterday issued a severe public admonishment to former Modoc Superior Court Judge David A. Mason, who was publicly admonished on Dec. 3, 2019, for failing to disclose to parties his close relationship with a lawyer who appeared before him and, even after that scolding, continued to neglect to make a disclosure in some cases.

Mason, who retired Oct. 31, on Nov. 6 signed a stipulation prepared by the commission staff under which he would, if the CJP approved the bargain, receive a severe public admonishment and be forever barred from seeking or accepting a judicial office or assignment.

The former jurist could, potentially, have received a higher level of discipline: a censure.

Yesterday’s decision says:

“The commission’s determination to resolve this matter with a severe public admonishment was conditioned upon former Judge Mason’s agreement not to serve in a judicial capacity in the future. The commission concluded that this resolution adequately fulfills its mandate to protect the public from further possible misconduct and avoids the need for further proceedings.”

It spells out:

“Former Judge Mason has acknowledged his failure to properly disclose his  personal relationship with attorney Tom Gifford on the record in a multitude of  cases in which Mr. Gifford appeared, his lack of candor in his communication with  the commission about his compliance with his disclosure obligations, and his  discourteous and biased conduct toward the district attorney’s office—all of which  violated his duty to conduct himself with integrity and in a manner that promotes  public confidence in the judiciary.

“The purpose of California’s statutory disclosure requirements is to ensure public confidence in the judiciary…Former Judge Mason’s persistent failure to comply with these requirements reflects an unacceptable lack of concern on his part about the public’s perception of the integrity and fairness of the judiciary.”

His conduct toward the District Attorney’s Office was comprised of a comment during a chambers conference in which he remarked that the office was “unprofessional and stupid” to have filed a complaint in a case.


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