Thursday, June 7, 2001
County Doesn’t Have to Pay to Defend Judge Against CJP Charges—C.A.
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer/Appellate Courts
Neither a Ventura County Board of Supervisors resolution nor state law obligates the county to pay for former Ventura Superior Court Judge Robert Bradley’s defense to disciplinary charges brought by the Commission on Judicial Performance, this district’s Court of Appeal has ruled.
Bradley, a former presiding judge whose career came to an ignominious end as a result of alcohol abuse, was censured by the commission in 1999. He was also barred from performing court-assigned work for at least one year, a sanction which has not been lifted.
He had been suspended from office by the commission the previous year, and did not seek a new term in the 1998 elections.
The commission found that he had brought the judiciary into disrepute as a result of two drunk-driving convictions and several other alcohol-related incidents, and had abused his office by attempting to use it to avoid arrest.
He also missed a good deal of work as a result of being drunk, being barred from the courthouse as a “security risk,” being in alcohol rehabilitation, and finally being relieved of his duties by the presiding judge, the commission said.
Bradley, who was represented by the Claremont firm of Jones, Mahoney, Brayton & Soll, sought payment of his costs and fees under a 1989 board resolution providing for the indemnification of judges and commissioners “for actions arising out of the course and scope of their employment as judicial officers.”
He also cited Government Code provisions requiring public entities to defend their employees in proceedings resulting from actions undertaken within the scope of their duties, if the employee acted without malice and in the employer’s interest. Also relied upon was a Labor Code section on employer indemnification of employees for expenditures incurred in connection with their duties.
Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge James W. Brown dismissed the action, agreeing with county lawyers that none of the cited provisions applied to Bradley because his misconduct didn’t involve actions undertaken on behalf of the court or within the scope of judicial duties.
Presiding Justice Vaino Spencer, writing for the Court of Appeal’s Div. One, agreed. Her unpublished opinion was filed May 21, and a copy was obtained yesterday by the MetNews.
Most of the misconduct with which Bradley was charged—including driving drunk, breaking into the residence of his estranged wife, and threatening a deputy district attorney with whom she had become romantically involved—occurred away from the courthouse and while he was on personal, not court,business, Spencer said.
And while some of his alleged wrongful acts, such as showing up drunk for work, occurred at the courthouse, that doesn’t make them work-related for purposes of triggering the duty to defend, the jurist said.
“[Bradley’s] actions were not an outgrowth of workplace responsibilities, conditions or events, and were not motivated by these factors,” Spencer wrote. “No other reasonable conclusion can be drawn from the facts.”
The case is Bradley v. County of Ventura, B143142.