As we reported in our story San Diego Judge DeAnn Salcido Demeans Litigants and Justice to Create Demo Videos for Her Proposed TV Show  a few weeks ago, San Diego family law judge DeAnn Salcido has been under investigation by the California Commission on Judicial Performance (CJP) for numerous corrupt and abusive practices including using her courtroom to jump-start a career move into television. It appears she’s realized she is the judicial equivalent of thoroughly burnt toast because as part of her misconduct, she angered other corrupt and abusive San Diego judges who have friends in the CJP by her attempts to pose as a “reformer” to draw fire away from her own actions. She aimed to position herself as a “reformer” against Judges Peter Deddeh and Peter Gallagher by taking advantage of the child molestation crimes against Amber DuBois and Chelsea King by John Gardner.
On November 10, 2010, Salcido announced she is resigning from her position. The resignation is part of a deal with CJP to avoid a public hearing on her misconduct in 2011. By resigning and accepting censure by the CJP, she avoids increasing the public embarrassment she already faces for her appalling conduct.
CJP Does Not Pursue Public Interests
California citizens, particularly those in San Diego, should accept that Salcido’s resignation is largely not the result of CJP’s actions itself. CJP hid the investigation of Salcido until after the election in June 2010, enabling Salcido to win re-election. This is a standard practice for CJP. The organization does not operate in the public interest, as is clearly evidenced by how CJP has failed to send judicial criminals packing in the past. For instance, both felony-plea-bargained-to-misdemeanor convicted criminal Judge Peter McBrien  and convicted drunk driver Judge Lisa Schall  remain on the bench despite repeated CJP investigations against each of them. What killed Salcido’s career as a judge is not her abuses, crimes, and misconduct. Such actions are routine for California judges. Her fatal offense was going up against other judicial officers by daring to file a lawsuit against them for their actions  in a publicity stunt designed to deflect attention from her own behaviors.
CJP Cover-ups and Whitewashing Routine
CJP functions by hiding complaints except for a few ones that are particularly egregious and usually already quite public, as was the case for McBrien’s felony-level crimes in destruction of trees in a state park for his own financial benefit and Schall’s reckless drunk driving the wrong way on a high speed divided road. In most such cases, CJP engages in whitewashing judicial criminals and hiding their crimes from the public until after elections. Because CJP is composed largely of legal “professionals” and their family members and political allies, California’s entire judicial disciplinary system lacks any legitimacy whatsoever. Salcido herself has hinted at this, and while we believe she deserves far worse than what she is getting, we agree with her that she is being treated more harshly than many other judicial violators for political reasons. This should make it very clear to citizens who care about justice in California that in reality there is no justice for judges or the citizens they abuse.
In McBrien’s case, he’s been “punished” twice now. The latest is a public censure for misconduct in a 2006 divorce trial. McBrien was up for re-election in November 2008. Even though this was a very clear-cut case of violations, CJP didn’t issue the public censure against him until January 2010, just over a year after the election. Undoubtedly this helped McBrien get re-elected. Imagine what the results might have been if the public censure had been issued six months to a year before the election. Similar timing can be observed in many other notices issued by CJP.
CJP should be paying attention to election timing. The public needs information to determine whether to re-elect a judge. By failing to timely handle judicial misconduct cases, CJP is impeding the public’s ability to make competent election decisions on judges.
CJP is clearly not operating in the public interests by its actions. Its composition makes this virtually certain to be the case. Traditionally, the majority of CJP members are current or former judges, attorneys, or relatives of a judge. These people have every interest in ensuring that judges can violate the law and people’s rights with impunity because they directly or indirectly benefit from it. In recent years, the number of “public members” who might not be so aligned has increased to provide the illusion of impartiality. But if you investigate the background of these members, it is clear that many of them are connected with the judicial legal community they are asked to police.
Californians Have No Confidence in Courts
The existing situation is part of why Californians should have absolutely no confidence in their courts, particularly those that lack juries (as do family and juvenile courts) to help reduce the impact of judicial bias, abuse, and corruption. It is common to see judicial criminals in charge of other judges to participate in violations of law and rules and then whitewash the misconduct of their staffs, claiming they are “doing a good job” while it is entirely clear that they are systematically violating the law. You can see this in the habitual dishonesty of Judge Lorna Alksne, one of Salcido’s former supervisors who has overseen widespread violations of rules for child custody evaluations and the use of minor’s counsel in San Diego courtrooms. She’s not alone — far too many California judges are essentially abusive and sometimes profiteering criminals with immunity from prosecution.
CJP Should Be Replaced
CJP should be sacked and replaced with a citizens’ commission composed entirely of people outside the legal/political community and tied to a state office devoted to prosecuting government criminals, being able to request investigative assistance from that office and recommend criminal prosecution of the worst of the judges. Such a revised CJP should also include rotating short-term advisors from the legal community who get no vote whatsoever but do get to provide their input on complaints and investigations to the citizen members via written public opinions that all citizens can read. Transparency should be the goal as we have amply seen what the failure to be transparent and public has done in the state’s courts. California’s secretive family law and juvenile courts routinely seal records and hearings and then proceed to abuse citizens and their children to reward friends of the court, even going so far as to threaten and persecute people they are illegally harming with even more harm if they discuss the crimes publicly. Families and citizens are routinely abused by these criminals dispensing their version of “justice” that is often far from just and often outright illegal and abusive in an of itself. Short of such a major overhaul, CJP will continue to be an organization of criminally-minded abusers policing their friends.