Someone Should Stop Judge James Brooks Ticker Nov 30, 2006 15:32:23 GMT -5
Post by WaTcHeR on Nov 30, 2006 15:32:23 GMT -5
Judge James Brooks
11.30.2006 - A veteran Orange County judge received a public admonishment Wednesday by the state judicial commission, which said that his handling of two cases did not promote public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary.
Superior Court Judge James Brooks was cited for statements he made to a civil defendant that mocked the man's claim of a heart condition and for remarks that could be perceived as biased against a Middle Eastern couple.
Brooks, a former prosecutor elected to the Orange County Municipal Court in 1986, is on vacation this week and could not be reached for comment. He became a Superior Court judge in 1998 when municipal and superior courts in California merged.
Judge Nancy Wieben Stock, the presiding judge of the Orange County Superior Court bench, declined to comment Wednesday.
A public admonishment is a statement of rebuke of a judge's conduct, but it does not mean the judge will be removed from the bench, said Victoria Henley, director of the commission.
The admonishment made public Wednesday says that in a 2004 hearing Brooks was rude to a civil-case defendant who said that he missed a deposition because he felt pressure in his chest and that his doctor told him to go immediately to the nearest hospital.
"Gee, I wonder what's going to happen when we put you in jail?" Brooks responded, according to the admonishment. "Your little ticker might stop, you think?"
The judge later fined the man's wife $5,000 for contempt of court, threatened her with a larger fine and said, "I'd mention jail, but it might give her a heart attack."
In the second case, Brooks said from the bench in 2005 that women may not own property in the Middle East, according to the admonishment. Brooks then ruled that a Syrian woman was likely just a front for her husband in the ownership of a Santa Ana strip club.
"Probably a very nice lady – probably doesn't know how much she owns," the judge said, according to the courtroom transcript in that case.
The commission found the comments violated a judicial canon that requires judges to refrain from speech that could be perceived as biased or prejudiced. The admonishment also states that Brooks violated a requirement that judges be "patient, dignified and courteous."
Cliff Roberts Jr., the lawyer who represented the Anaheim couple – Joe Joher and his wife, Saher – said the couple were insulted by the "inappropriate comments."
"A judge has to appear to be a model of decorum in dealing with whoever, regardless of race or gender, appears in front of him," he said.
The commission also said that Brooks, 69, has received other disciplinary warnings for comments that reflected ethnic bias:
•In 1996, the admonishment states, Brooks received an advisory letter for referring to a Hispanic defendant as "Pedro," issuing a bench warrant for an Asian defendant for "$10,000 or 20,000 yen," and telling a Hispanic defendant, "You have more names than the Tijuana telephone book."
•In 1999, Brooks received an advisory letter that chastised him for his handling of an assault case when he said if anyone assaulted a member of his family, he would "go down and punch (their) lights out" instead of calling the police.
•In 2003, Brooks received a private admonishment for referring to the operators of a mobile home park in a civil suit as "Nazis" and analogizing their actions to that of the Nazis during the Holocaust.
Brooks was a deputy district attorney in Orange County for 14 years before he was elected to the municipal court bench.