Friday, November 22, 2002
Retired Judge James Simpson Reportedly to Be Censured
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James R. Simpson has agreed to be publicly censured by the Commission on Judicial Performance, a knowledgeable source told the MetNews yesterday.
Simpson was to have faced a panel of special masters on Dec. 9 for a hearing on whether he attempted to influence the outcome of cases in front of other judicial officers. But the commission said yesterday in a release that the hearing has been vacated so that it may consider the proposed settlement, terms of which were not disclosed by the commission.
The commission’s next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 4 and 5.
The former judge, who was granted disability retirement last December, receives a tax-free pension of nearly $90,000 annually, which would not be affected by the censure.
Simpson was charged with six counts of violating ethics rules that require judges to act with “integrity and impartiality,” and prohibit lending the prestige of the office to advance private interests. In a formal response to the charges, he denied that he ever intended to influence another judicial officer or violate any rule.
Four of the counts involve the judge’s friend Allen Brandstater, a conservative activist and former Glendale council candidate.
The commission charged that Simpson:
•Granted Brandstater a continuance of his probation revocation hearing after he failed to complete DUI school following a drunk driving conviction, even though the case had previously been transferred to another judge.
•Improperly called Commissioner Steven Lubell into Simpson’s chambers in an attempt to resolve a “fix-it” ticket for Mark Enzenauer, a business associate of Brandstater who apparently couldn’t resolve the ticket without judicial intervention because his vehicle couldn’t pass a smog inspection.
•Called Lubell into chambers, criticized him for making Enzenauer wait for a long time in court—which the commissioner denied—and asked Lubell what could be done about the citation.
•Arranged—at Brandstater’s behest—a continuance in a traffic case, pending before another judge, for Martha Thayer, a Glendale public relations consultant who is a longtime friend and sometimes business associate of Brandstater and has known Simpson for 30 years.
•Recalled a warrant that had been issued for Brandstater’s arrest after he failed to appear before another judicial officer on a charge of driving with improper tags.
The commission also charged Simpson with intervening improperly in several cases before then-Glendale Municipal Court Commissioner Dona Bracke, and with having acted improperly in a 1998 case by asking a police officer into chambers and asking about possible resolution of a ticket the officer had given that day to someone Simpson knew.
Simpson was a judge for seven years, having been elected to the Glendale Municipal Court in 1994 and elevated to the Superior Court through unification in 2000. He is a former deputy district attorney and ran for the bench after 29 years as a prosecutor.
In his response to the charges, Simpson denied that he intentionally violated any rules, and said his relationship with Brandstater did not constitute grounds for disqualification in the Enzenauer and Thayer matters.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company