Buoyed by a partial victory, Judge Calvin P. Schmidt, under investigation for official misconduct, will fight to clear his name, his lawyer vowed Friday.
"We believe he will be totally vindicated," said Tom Malcolm, lawyer for Schmidt, a Harbor Municipal judge in Newport Beach.
"He's going to fight and he's going to win," Malcolm said. "When his term expires at the end of the year, he has plans to retire. He is going to retire with a clean record."
Schmidt is under investigation by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, which had announced plans to hold public hearings in the case.
On Thursday, Schmidt's lawyers won a temporary restraining order blocking any public hearing before further proceedings in the case, now scheduled for June 15.
Change in Law
Under Proposition 92, passed by California voters in November, the commission may conduct disciplinary hearings against judges in public if the charges involve moral turpitude, dishonesty or corruption. Before the law was passed, the commission was required to conduct the hearings behind closed doors. Schmidt's hearing was scheduled for Aug. 9.
Malcolm challenged the plan, arguing that under Proposition 92, the state commission must first draw up guidelines governing when a hearing should be open to the public. No guidelines have been drawn, according to the lawsuit.
Orange County Superior Court Commissioner Ronald L. Bauer issued the restraining order, which blocks any open disciplinary forum until a full hearing in the case can be scheduled.
Hearings Were Announced
The judicial commission, which investigates allegations of misconduct against the state's judges and has the power to discipline, announced last year that hearings will be held on allegations against Schmidt.
Cynthia Dorfman, associate counsel for the commission, said Friday that there will be no comment on Schmidt's lawsuit.
The judicial commission has declined to reveal specific allegations against Schmidt. Sources have said the investigation centers on allegations of favoritism in exchange for sex involving both Schmidt, 59, and former Harbor Municipal Judge Brian R. Carter, 63.
The commission had announced in October that it intended to conduct a hearing into the allegations against Carter, but the proceedings were cut short when Carter retired abruptly in February and resumed his private law practice.
Schmidt, a 23-year veteran of the Harbor Court bench whose term expires at the end of this year, could not be reached for comment.
Malcolm would not discuss the charges against Schmidt, except to say that publicized reports of the judge's alleged preferential court treatment for X-rated movie performer Pamela G. Weston were not included in the commission's formal charges against the judge.
The commission is known to be considering allegations that Schmidt reduced a 1984 prostitution sentence against Weston from 10 days in jail to non-jail community-work time after a friend intervened on her behalf.
Newport Beach police and the Orange County district attorney's office had looked into this and other incidents involving preferential treatment allegedly being meted out by Schmidt and Carter, but the investigations ended without any charges being filed.
State investigators are also looking into Schmidt's alleged preferential treatment of Della Christine Johnson, a prostitute. Johnson told Fullerton police after her arrest on suspicion of prostitution in June, 1984, that she had engaged in sex with a friend of Schmidt in return for help in persuading the judge to give her special treatment in handling some traffic tickets. Johnson also told Fullerton police that she had sex with Carter as payment for a debt owed to Schmidt. Carter has repeatedly declined to discuss the Johnson matter.
At least three other Harbor Court judges, Russell A. Bostrom, Susanne Shaw and Selim Franklin, have been under investigation by the state judicial commission on other matters, sources have told The Times. Bostrom and Franklin were being investigated for allegedly pressuring Newport Beach city officials to drop a police investigation into Harbor Court, and Shaw was under scrutiny for allegedly conducting herself on the bench in a manner unbecoming a judge, sources have said.