San Diego Judge DeAnn Salcido Demeans Litigants and Justice to Create Demo Videos for Her Proposed TV ShowWritten by: Chris Print This Article
Use of Our Content (Reposting and Quoting)
We received a tip on this story from source personally familiar with the common abusive and criminal behaviors of San Diego judges. Before reading the documents and only knowing they concerned San Diego Judge DeAnn Salcido, I anticipated it was going to have something to do with Salcido’s deceitful political antics a few months back regarding her accusations and law suit against other San Diego judges as a ploy to boost her popularly in the June 2010 election. While that is in part the case, the documents contain some surprises. The 21 page long formal complaint against Salcido reveals an arrogant and superficial judge who shows contempt for the law, her judicial office, litigants, attorneys, court employees, and common decency. Salcido’s 75 page long response further shows her apparent contempt for judicial canons and the law. Yet Salcido has the audacity to berate, insult, and threaten a litigant who she thinks shows disdain for her. Judging from her reported actions in numerous incidents, Salcido is entirely worthy of immense disdain by virtually anybody appearing in her courtroom.
Particularly alarming is that the complaint was kept secret by the Commission on Judicial Performance until after the June 2010 balloting which re-elected her. If the public had known the quantity and severity of complaints regarding Salcido, it is likely that some voters would have voted differently.
Under strict confidentiality rules, the commission could not say anything about the investigation until a formal complaint was filed, which happened on Sept. 20. Salcido, now assigned to a downtown San Diego courtroom, is supposed to file a response to the allegations today.
The 21-page complaint details conduct dating to January 2009, more than a year before the election.
Lawyers mentioned by name in the complaint declined to comment, citing confidentiality rules or that the matter is pending before the commission. Only one lawyer was willing to acknowledge speaking to commission investigators before the June primary.
Salcido’s opponent in June, Harold Coleman Jr., said he wonders if the commission had told voters about the judge’s conduct if it would have made a difference in the election.
Coleman was one of four candidates backed by a conservative religious group that challenged incumbent Superior Court judges in June. Most are re-elected without an opponent. None of the challengers won, though Coleman captured more votes than any of the others. He had 41 percent to Salcido’s 60 percent.
“I don’t know if this would have been enough to close that gap,” Coleman said. “But I think it (the investigation) is a very material factor the public ought to have known.”
While the San Diego Union Tribune explains this away as compliance with confidentiality rules, it turns out that keeping complaints and disciplinary actions secret until shortly after elections is common practice for CJP. They have done it time and again with other abusive judges like Lisa Schall and Peter McBrien.
CJP is a spineless organization that covers up judicial misconduct as its mission. It nominally takes complaints and is to investigate them while making the investigations open to public review. But the reality is that it suppresses information about the complaints and helps judges to prevent any serious impact to their careers. For example, in 2000, around the time of the McBrien tree cutting episode, it buried 948 out 951 complaints so the public could not see them. In the complaints it does investigate, it generally takes multiple years to investigate and often issues public admonishments and censures after elections. This helps keep the voters in the dark about what a judge has done wrong, thus helping the judge to be re-elected.
Although CJP has the authority to remove a judge from the bench, it seldom does so. What it generally does, if anything, is to issue a private or public admonishment and time it to minimize its impact. Drunk driving, sexual harassment, vandalism, false imprisonment, and other crimes are all routinely whitewashed by CJP.
The lesson here is that if you have a complaint against a judge, you should endeavor to make it public. CJP cannot be trusted to do its legally specified job, what it will do is to try to minimize the impact on the abusive judge in nearly every case.
Salcido also engaged in pre-election posturing using her conflict with other judges and the publicity of the Amber DuBois and Chelsea King murders by convict John Gardner to gain favorable publicity for herself. While she has openly attacked other judges trying to portray herself as more law-abiding than they are, the details of her many alleged misconducts paint a rather different picture.
Salcido Wants To Be A TV Star
Like judges in far too many American courts, the black-robed thugs sitting on the benches in San Diego courts certainly don’t want accurate records maintained because it might expose many of their crimes and abuses for the public to easily see. But some judges do want a record kept for their own personal gain. DeAnn Salcido is one of those judges. She apparently thinks video recording her abusive antics for the entertainment industry, where she hopes to get a future job being a wise-cracking rude TV judge, is acceptable conduct in a San Diego courtroom.
Video and audio recording in a court room should be routine for the benefit of creating an accurate record, particularly for litigants who can’t afford to pay thousands of dollars for transcripts that are error prone and are often inaccurate because of mistakes and even intentional alterations done by off-the-record actions for the benefit of people paying money to the criminally dishonest judges, court reporters, or other court staff who disregard the law as they lie and abuse the rights of citizens for their own benefits.
Don’t think that such abuses are typical of just entry level inexperienced judges. In corrupt counties like San Diego, altering or destroying records and covering up such tampering is common practice all the way up the bench to supervising judges like Judge Lorna Alksne, one of Salcido’s supervisors during her time in family law court assignments since Salcido became a judge in 2002. When the supervisors and Commission on Judicial Performance make it clear to their subordinates that bias, corruption, and criminality are tolerable conduct for a judge, can you expect the courts to be fair, just, and law-abiding? Certainly not.
Particularly appalling is how some of these ridiculous behaviors appear to be something Salcido does for the benefit of a video camera in the courtroom. The formal complaint proceedings prepared by the Commission on Judicial Performance make this clear:
The purpose of the filming was to promote yourself for a role in a potential television entertainment program featuring a judge.
Salcido apparently fancies herself a budding entertainment celebrity ala TV’s Judge Judy. In violation of law and legal process and for her own personal gain, she had her bailiff’s husband and later a professional video crew videotaping her acting on the bench with court in session on multiple dates in order to pass along demo videos to entertainment industry contacts in hopes of securing herself a job. She improperly used her court room to demean, ridicule, and berate litigants for the purpose of videotaping her acting talent to show she could be an entertaining judge.
Furthermore, allegations are that she rearranged her court schedule to benefit the video recordings. The CJP complaints include mention of email evidence of this.
In an email message dated March 5, 2009, sent by you to the entertainment lawyer, you suggested that filming in your courtroom be scheduled for April 24. You told him that you “have been setting my more interesting defendants and those with substance abuse issues for Friday April 24th.” On March 9, 2009, following his suggestion that filming occur on May 1, you sent an email message in which you told him that “I will line up my most interesting cases for the afternoon of [Friday] May 1st.” Your statements give the appearance that you were scheduling cases based on their possible appeal in a videotape to be used to promote yourself for a television program. It also creates an appearance of impropriety to represent that you would manipulate your calendar for non-judicial purposes.
Your conduct in count one violated canons 1 (a judge shall uphold the integrity of the judiciary), 2 (a judge shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety), 2A (a judge shall respect and comply with the law and shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary), 2B(2) (improper use of the prestige ofjudicial office) and 3 A (a judge’s duties shall take precedence over all other activities).
Salcido’s Antics Aren’t Just for TV
After reading the many initial pages of detailed complaints and responses about Salcido’s misconduct pertaining to videotaped court sessions, I couldn’t help but wonder if her arrogant and abusive conduct was worse than usual in an attempt to be entertaining. But the complaints go far beyond the videotaping incidents. It seems reasonably clear that Salcido’s very personality is one of an arrogant abuser whether she has a camera recording her or not. Below I’ll highlight some of the more outrageous examples of what is apparently common conduct in her courtroom.
Salcido Destroys Court Evidence
Salcido apparently thinks that she can destroy material submitted to the court by a litigant’s attorney as she sees fit.
On June 30, 2009, around 3:11 p.m., attorney Alan Spears appeared regarding his pregnant client Justine Means, who was in Maine. Attorney Spears, who was seeking a continuance, said that his client felt unable to travel because of the pregnancy, and gave you a physician’s letter that noted her due date. You stated that pregnant people traveled all the time, and noted that the physician’s letter did not say that the defendant was at high risk or subject to bed rest. After the prosecutor said that she did not object to a continuance, you said that you would grant it. As you explained that you were granting the continuance for discovery reasons, not because Means was pregnant, you ripped up the physician’s letter, and either threw the pieces in the trash yourself or handed the pieces to your clerk to put into the trash.
Maybe she got the idea that destroying filings is acceptable conduct from her friend Judge Lorna Alksne who has been involved in the cover-up of court misconduct regarding misfiling and/or destroying mandatory family law court forms going back many years, including all the years during which she has been Supervising Judge, and then trying to cover its tracks at Alksne’s orders.
Salcido Denigrates and Discusses Violent Threats Against Public Defender
Salcido participated in insulting and denigrating Deputy Public Defender Richard Longman and discussing having her bailiff use a Taser against him.
Similarly, on July 28, 2009, near the end of the court day, during a discussion in open court not connected to a particular case, you repeatedly referred to DPD Longman as “Mr. Federal Case” and complained that you never get out of court early when he is in your department. And, on May 1, 2009, while waiting for DPD Longman, the bailiff jokingly asked if you wanted her to Taser him; after responding in a joking manner that you did not want her to Taser him, you asked either the bailiff or someone else present in the courtroom, “Do you want to Taser him?”
As it is the bailiff who brought up the mockery and discussion of violence, the bailiff should be subjected to disciplinary action for this misconduct. But if these reports are accurate, Salcido played right along with it and she is not simply an innocent bystander. If you read the full text of the complaints, it is clear she routinely ridicules Longman in her courtroom and encourages others to do so, also.
Salcido Engages in Possible Defamation and Display of Bias
The judge apparently doesn’t know how to shut her trap about matters not before the court and/or to recuse when she has personal involvement that is too close. In this portion of the complaint, it appears she is engaging in possible defamation against football player Shawne Merriman by accusing him of illegal drug usage and reveals personal knowledge that should cause her to recuse from any case involving Merriman.
On July 28,2009, at about 10:06 a.m., during a case discussion with a privately retained attorney, you remarked regarding football player Shawne Merriman, “Although I do have it on a reliable source he likes to play with Ecstasy pills.” You further remarked, “A friend of mine personally observed it, it was at his house.”
Salcido Attempts to Dissuade Litigant from Speaking With Attorney
The judge apparently thinks it is OK to push litigants from discarding their legal rights. If they are uncertain, then she thinks it is OK to make fun of them.
Around 4:10 p.m., defendant Jemeelah Coleman appeared before you unrepresented; she apparently had failed to comply with a condition of probation. You advised her that you would allow her to serve 24 hours in custody, instead of the customary 48 hours, for the violation of probation. You advised her that she had a right to be counseled by an attorney before admitting the violation and being sentenced, and informed her that she would have to come back on Monday if she wanted to speak with an attorney. At one point you told her, “But I might not be so gracious on Monday.” After further discussion, the defendant said that she wanted to “do the 24 hours.” When the defendant paused after you said that this meant she would waive her right to speak with an attorney, you asked, “You want to ask the lifeline? You need a lifeline?” The audience laughed at your remarks.
Salcido Violates Contempt of Court Rules
This troublesome conduct is much like the actions of drunk driver Judge Lisa Schall that got her into hot water with CJP. CJP found that what Schall did by throwing an upset litigant into custody without a hearing was a violation of due process and abuse of contempt of court powers. Salcido has done much the same.
On January 7,2010, around 10:03 a.m., defendant Chadira Gipson appeared before you in case number C287545 for a change of plea. As set forth below, you took Gipson into custody for direct contempt without affording her due process or complying with the legal requirements for direct contempt, and without sentencing her; you also directed comments to the courtroom audience that failed to uphold a high standard of conduct:
Court: Oh, Chadira Gipson.
Counsel: Good morning, Your Honor, Michael Kern appearing on behalf of Ms. Gipson. She’s present in court for the court out of custody for change of plea to a 415(2) as a misdemeanor.
Your conduct constituted an abuse of authority and demonstrated embroilment. It violated canons 1 (a judge shall uphold the integrity of the judiciary), 2 (a judge shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety), 2A (a judge shall promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary), 3B(2) (a judge shall be faithful to the law), 3B(4) (a judge shall be patient, dignified, and courteous) and 3B(7) (a judge shall accord to every person who has a legal interest in a proceeding the right to be heard).
Salcido Demeans Court Staff As Incompetent
Salcido repeatedly denigrates other judges in her courtroom. This is probably what is driving CJP’s actions more than anything else. CJP normally hides judicial misconduct, but in Salcido’s case it appears she may actually get something more closely approximating justice simply because she has attacked other judges and they and their allies likely have made their displeasure known to CJP.
While the “I am God in my courtroom” and “I don’t care what other judges say” attitudes shown here are typical for San Diego judges like Lisa Schall, Lorna Alksne, and many others, the level of direct insults of court staff is unusual. Salcido probably has earned herself a bad reputation with other judges. This in and of itself might not be so bad as many San Diego judges are truly reprehensible people. However, combined with her other misconduct, it is clear this does not reflect Salcido attempting to stick up for justice but instead are simply glaring displays of the severe defects in her personality.
On June 9, 2009, around 10:27 a.m., you raised concerns regarding an August 7, 2008 order entered by Judge Peter Gallagher in a criminal case involving defendant Sean Strange. After checking the court file, you commented, “Ah, Judge Gallagher, aka assistant public defender.” You later commented, “Is that ridiculous that Judge Gallagher did that. I mean it’s a sex offender case. Yeah, whatever, you know. A DV statute says it’s mandatory but, you know, we’re the judge, we can do what we want. Quote. Justice be damned.”
On July 6, 2009, around 2:38 p.m., while reviewing a request for modification of the terms of a protective order in the Houmi case, you remarked, “I can’t do this because it’s not consistent with the statute, … I mean I can send it up to Judge Deddeh since he’s the one who doesn’t want to follow the statute.”
In approximately early 2010, you made remarks in court disparaging the general clerical staff as follows. On a number of occasions, you referred to the business office staff as “cucumbers.” For example, on one occasion around March or April 2010, when it was suggested that a case be postponed to the afternoon, you said words to the effect that “no, because the cucumbers might lose the file.” On another occasion around March or April 2010, after referring to the clerical staff as “cucumbers,” you then added that “they aren’t even potatoes because potatoes have eyes.” On more than one occasion around March or April 2010, you have made the “potatoes” comment to the courtroom audience and have added that “they aren’t corn because corn has ears.” On January 7,2010, around 10:32 a.m., after a defendant appearing on a warrant referred to information he had received from a clerk, you stated, “Sir, most of those clerks, I wouldn’t trust a guinea pig to. Let alone my freedom.”
On May 20, 2010, around 2:30 p.m., during a discussion about a paperwork mix-up in a certain case, you sarcastically said, “however, I was going to say another word, the brilliant people in the back office decided not to file your paperwork in the court’s file ….” You later commented “Yi, yi, yi, yi, yi. This is what I have to work with, all right, every day.”
On February 22,2010, court operations supervisor Beverly Harris had assigned a backup clerk to your department who had to leave at 3:30 p.m. While waiting for a replacement clerk, you made disparaging comments about Harris in open court, some of which referred to an email she had previously sent to your clerk. Your remarks included, “the supervisor decided to send us a clerk that had to leave at 3:30,” “That was what they taught them at Management 101 seminars that they attend,” and “How to get the most of your employees. Let them know they could get fired.” When Harris arrived in your courtroom you asked her, “did you know we finish at 5:00?”
These quotes and the related matters are possibly part of the reason why she has tried to resort to deceptive practices to get the uninformed public to side with her against other judges in 2010. She almost certainly knew that these complaints were being made against her as the investigation started before the election in June 2010. It appears she may have thought her May 2010 stunts could help deflect the coming disciplinary actions against her or to provide a deceptive “escape hatch” by which she could blame “unfair disciplinary actions” upon rival judges whom she has attacked as being soft on crime.
Salcido Just One Bad Judge Of Many
Salcido doesn’t belong in a courtroom as a judge or an attorney. She should be tossed off the bench and disbarred for making a mockery of the law and courts.
But Salcido is just one part of a much larger problem. Many of the other judges in the county and state belong kicked off the bench, too. Alas, if the public relies upon CJP to do its job, corruption and injustice will continue to be the norm in San Diego and California. People who are being wronged by these judges need to be taking their cases to the public and media rather than letting CJP engage in cover-up and whitewashing in secrecy.
Sheriff’s Department Role In Judicial Abuse and Corruption
San Diego Sheriff’s Department should take some disciplinary action against the bailiff involved, but to be fair give her retraining and a second chance given that she probably was improperly trained to serve the black-robed thugs without considering the law. More importantly, the Sheriff’s Department should institute training of its entire staff, especially its court services staff, on their requirements to disobey illegal orders made by a judge and to report such judges for disciplinary action and prosecution. To date, the Sheriff’s Department has been providing poorly trained bailiffs to San Diego judges who then proceed to violate the law at the command of these judges. But with Sheriff Bill “Ruby Ridge” Gore in charge of the department and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors stacked with its own corrupt and abusive officials, don’t expect there to be any meaningful reform without first purging the county of the tyrants in control via recalls, elections, or other means. While in some counties those “other means” might include criminal prosecution, in San Diego that’s not likely with DA Bonnie Dumanis clearly siding with the crooks and abusers that are her friends throughout the region’s courts, governments, and law enforcement agencies.
Salcido is not alone in making improper use of Sheriff’s staff. Judge Lorna Alksne is another of the judges making improper use of Sheriff’s resources. Alksne has her own personally controlled security staff because she has reportedly been repeatedly subjected to death threats and protests. When this was recently explained to a sitting Federal judge who has previously served varied judicial assignments including family law, the judge’s reaction was that something must be very wrong with such a judge because competent and fair judges do not engender this level of animosity. But as Alksne is neither competent nor fair, the surprise should not be the death threats and protests but that nobody from the Sheriff’s department has yet gotten hurt due to the abusive black-robed tyrant Lorna Alksne.
Public Action Needed to Force Judicial Reform
With a Supervising Judge like Alksne showing the way for tyrants-and-wackos-in-training like Salcido and drunk driver Judge Lisa Schall, San Diego family law courts have a well-deserved reputation as kangaroo courts that violate the law and people’s rights and wrongly hurt children and parents as a matter of practice. This is not going to change until the abusive judges are run out of office, either via elections, recalls, or other less usual means. Even though CJP has the ability to remove these judges from office, they will not do it unless forced into it by their allies or the public.
Salcido has a decent shot of being removed from office only because of how she has angered other judges. But most abusive judges do not make that same mistake and constrain their abuses to defenseless citizens and other people that the judiciary would like to target for its own improper motives. CJP is fine with such judges violating the law and abusing people’s rights so long as they don’t embarrass or anger other government officials. So in a sense, there is a double standard at work here by which other abusive judges will not get reprimanded and punished but Salcido will. This doesn’t make Salcido any less of a bad judge, it simply shows that CJP is a biased organization that does not promote the law or public interests as it should.
Salcido is trying to fight back with a propaganda campaign of her own. Yet even the photos of Salcido available show her concern for image and influence over justice and the law. The photo at the top of this article is the glamor shot she uses to make herself look better than she really does, perhaps to influence TV shows to be interested in filming in her courtroom and the public to have a favorable view of her. The photo on the right is a more accurate representation of her appearance. She has reportedly posted a Facebook page to help organize people to “support” her violations of the law and justice by duping them into thinking she is actually opposed to the corruption and abuse in San Diego family law courts.
Salcido talks out of both sides of her mouth just like so many other judicial sociopaths in San Diego. “Best interests of the children” and “protecting women from violence” are propaganda phrases used while she and her cohorts in judicial crime emotionally, legally, and financially rape, pillage, and ruin so many families. Sociopathic judges make it appear they are concerned for the public good and upholding the law when in fact their real concerns are selfish, spiteful, and entirely at odds with the public good. Spinning Hitler as family friendly by photographing him giving an apple to a child doesn’t make him any less of a mass murderer, just as Salcido’s propaganda campaign doesn’t make her any less of an abysmally abusive judge.
The case of Richard Fine, the attorney who has made great noise and fury over the illegal payments being made by county governments to the judges discussed in this article and many more, shows what the California judiciary will do to its opponents if the public does not support reform. Fine has pointed out for years that the illegal county payments to state judges created the appearance and effect of illegal bias in courts in nearly every California county. In retaliation, the California judiciary agreed to throw him into jail on trumped-up allegations of contempt of court without proper due process and to have its allies in the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department hold him in solitary confinement incommunicado until activists and affiliated free media journalists pushed to shut down the communications blockade. Even with that pressure, it took 18 months of increasing public uproar and the resignations of Judge David Yaffe and California Chief Justice Ronald George for the judiciary to relent from its illegal actions and let Fine out of prison. When somebody with political and legal connections like Fine has from his service in the Clinton Administration’s Department of Justice can’t get justice in a speedy and fair fashion in California, you can bet that almost nobody can. But it does show that public pressure may have an effect. This is why it appears that the public is going to have to put a lot of pressure on CJP and the legislature to start cracking down on judicial abuse and corruption. When judges like Salcido, Schall, and Alksne start falling like flies, then perhaps the people can again have some confidence that judicial tyranny has been defeated and the rule of law will again prevail.