Monday, June 24, 2002
Retired Judge Hermo Resigns From State Bar, Avoiding Charges
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Retired Whittier Municipal Court Judge Alfonso Hermo has resigned from the State Bar with disciplinary charges pending, the State Bar disclosed Friday.
The resignation was effective June 13, according to a release.
While no details were given, Hermo, 70, was known to be facing discipline as a result of an incident that occurred while he was on the bench and which resulted in his being convicted of a misdemeanor, censured by the Commission on Judicial Performance, and barred from sitting on assignment.
The CJP last year approved a stipulation adopting the discipline, the maximum that can be imposed on an ex-judge by the commission.
Hermo and his bailiff of 24 years, now-retired Deputy Sheriff Al Garces, pled no contest in November 1999 to charges they aided the escape of an inmate from the judge’s courtroom. Under an agreement with prosecutors, they were each sentenced to two years’ summary probation, plus fines of $1,000 plus penalty assessments and 40 hours of community service each.
Hermo, who served on the court from 1968 until his retirement in March 1998, and Garces were originally charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice and faced possible three-year prison sentences in the Jan. 21, 1998, escape of convicted criminal Federico Felix. The pleas, however, were to reduced charges.
Hermo still receives a pension of about $100,000 annually, because he was not convicted of a felony. The original charge was a wobbler, and the ex-judge’s attorneys said they feared that if convicted of an offense originally charged as a felony, he would lose his pension even if the conviction were reduced to a misdemeanor.
As part of his agreement with the commission, Hermo stipulated that he initially set bail in the amount of $175,000, and noted in court records that Felix “ran out” out of the courtroom during a recess. The next day, however, he recalled the warrants and ordered Felix released on his own recognizance in order to help Garces, who had told a supervisor that the judge had released the defendant and told Hermo he would face a three-week suspension if the truth came out.
At the time of his plea, his attorney, Edward P. George, said Hermo hoped to return to the court as an assigned judge someday. But he later stipulated to discipline, the attorney said, because he wanted to put the matter behind him.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company