Thursday, September 6, 2001
CJP Charges Stockton Judge With Ticket Fixing, Improper Influence
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A San Joaquin Superior Court judge was charged by the Commission on Judicial Performance yesterday with fixing tickets and interceding in cases before other bench officers.
Judge Michael E. Platt, 52, was charged with six counts of misconduct by the commission. Platt was appointed to the court by then-Gov. Pete Wilson in 1994 after 17 years in practice, all but two years of it as a deputy district attorney.
Three of the counts involve the family of Edward Guardado, a friend who allegedly loaned the judge $3,500 in October 1998. The debt was discharged in a 1999 bankruptcy, the commission said.
The commission accused Platt of dismissing speeding tickets issued to Guardado and his niece, even though the cases were not assigned to him, and of telling a clerk in another courtroom that he wanted a ticket issued to Guardado’s wife to be dismissed and the matter kept strictly between Platt and the clerk.
Platt was also accused of having an ex parte conversation with a California Highway Patrol officer concerning a ticket issued to the minor son of a reserve deputy sheriff who occasionally served as a bailiff in Platt’s court; and of dismissing the ticket even though the case was not before him and would not normally have come to him.
The judge is also charged with entering a courtroom through a side door while a juvenile dependency matter involving people he knew was being heard, conveying the impression he was in a position to influence the outcome; and of contacting a commissioner assigned to a branch court with regard to a case against a man identified as the judge’s godfather.
The judge’s formal response to the charges is due Sept. 18.
Platt is native of Oakland and a graduate of UC Davis and Pepperdine University School of Law, having clerked for the Orange County district attorney and the Orange Superior Court before earning his degree. He is a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, during which he served in the Marine Corps.
He became a deputy district attorney in San Joaquin County in 1977, leaving in 1988 to establish a solo practice. He returned to the prosecutor’s office in 1990 and remained there until his appointment to the court, where he currently serves as presiding juvenile court judge in Stockton.
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company