Commission on Judicial Performance issues decision, removes Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge

In a decision released today, the Commission on Judicial Performance in San Francisco issued an order removing a Contra Costa County Superior Court judge.

The decision will remove John T. Laettner from the Superior Court bench. The commission’s determination becomes final in 30 days, subject to discretionary review by the California Supreme Court.

In their report, the commission found that Laettner engaged in multiple acts of misconduct, including denying a criminal defendant due process by remanding her without exonerating and resetting bail in open court, and later increasing bail without a hearing and in the defendant’s absence.

Other transgressions committed by Laettner included the following;

  • engaging in an improper substantive ex parte conversation with a prosecutor, outside the presence of a public defender; 
  • engaging in an improper ex parte conversation with a public defender in a public hallway of the courthouse in the presence of potential jurors; 
  • engaging in a pattern of misconduct toward a number of women, some of whom appeared before him as attorneys, that was unwelcome, undignified, discourteous, and offensive, that constituted gender bias, and that conveyed the impression that certain attorneys were in a special position to influence him; 
  • making comments in the presence of and/or about his long-time court reporter that were undignified and discourteous, and that constituted gender bias and sexual harassment; 
  • revoking a defendant’s own-recognizance release in the defendant’s absence and without an opportunity to be heard, and giving the appearance of retaliating for a public defender’s exercise of a peremptory challenge; 
  • failing to disclose his son’s employment with the district attorney’s office (or recuse) in some cases in which the district attorney’s office appeared; and improperly discussing, ex parte, peremptory challenges with deputy public defenders who were filing them against him. 

The commission determined that Judge Laettner engaged in “a significant amount of misconduct,” including five acts of willful misconduct and eleven acts of prejudicial misconduct.

Laettner was appoint to the bench in 2006 by Go. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Copyright by Elk Grove News © 2019. All right reserved.

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