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VENTURA COUNTY NEWS

Ex-Judge Bradley Arrested in Prowling Incident Near Home

March 16, 2000|CATHERINE BLAKE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

VENTURA — After 16 months of public sobriety, former Superior Court Judge Robert C. Bradley was arrested late Tuesday on suspicion of prowling near his Ventura home while intoxicated, offenses that could end his chances of working as a judge again.

Bradley, 59, was released from Ventura County Jail early Wednesday after posting $15,000 bail. A hearing was set for 1:30 p.m. today to consider allegations that Bradley violated his probation on two previous alcohol-related convictions.

The 16-year jurist, now a lawyer in Thousand Oaks, could not be reached for comment.

Dist. Atty. Michael D. Bradbury said his longtime friend was doing well, but could now face more jail time.

"It broke my heart," Bradbury said of the new arrest. "This is a good man who has done so much. It kills me to see him almost self-destruct like this. Anyone who knows this disease knows it is a daily fight, and people fall off the wagon."

Bradley, removed from the bench in 1999 after a string of alcohol-related arrests, could have reapplied to serve as fill-in jurist in June had he stayed out of trouble.

Daniel M. Hanlon, presiding justice of the state Commission on Judicial Performance, said the disciplinary board had hoped that Bradley could rehabilitate himself. That is why it stopped short last year of imposing its severest punishment on Bradley--a lifelong ban from the bench.

"I'm sorry to hear this has happened," Hanlon said. "He had an excellent reputation all those years. . . . We thought maybe the incident that set off [his drinking problem] would have resolved itself."

Bradley's most recent setback came after police responded at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday to an east Ventura resident's complaint that someone had tapped on his bedroom window, Police Lt. Gary McCaskill said.

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Eric Joseph Bryant, 30, who lives on Abilene Street about two blocks from Bradley's home, heard the noise, went outside and smelled a strong odor of cigar smoke, McCaskill said. He said Bryant apparently did not know Bradley.

"Bryant carried his cell phone with him and when he saw [Bradley] walking away . . . he followed him and called 911," McCaskill said.

Bradley was smoking a cigar outside his Cachuma Avenue home when arrested, McCaskill said.

Bradbury said Bradley admitted in a conversation Wednesday that he drank alcohol before taking a walk, but denied prowling in his neighbor's yard.

"Anyone who knows him knows that is totally inconsistent and out of character," Bradbury said.

At County Jail, tests showed that Bradley had a blood alcohol level of 0.11%, which McCaskill said was not high enough to cause him to act inebriated. It is illegal to drive with an alcohol level of 0.08%.

After posting bail, Bradley reported to his job at Cohen, Alexander & Clayton, which hired him eight months ago because his addiction seemed under control.

"We are very pleased with his performance, and I have had no indication of any problems," managing partner Leonard Alexander said. "He has a high degree of legal skills and talent, and this is a surprise. I think very highly of him as a person."

Alexander said the partners do not regret hiring Bradley and are discussing options, which might include additional alcohol rehabilitation.

Laurie Levenson, associate dean of Loyola Law School, said she doubted that Bradley would sit as a judge again.

"I think he has spent his goodwill," she said. "People have already given him the benefit of the doubt. The commission's view is that someone who has sworn to uphold the law should not violate those laws."

Bradley was suspended from the bench in early 1998 after two drunk-driving arrests and showing up to work intoxicated.

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After being convicted of drunk driving, he violated the terms of his probation by contacting his ex-wife and being publicly drunk. In all, he was arrested six times for alcohol-related offenses in eight months. He served two jail sentences, which amounted to seven months in custody.

When Bradley appeared before the judicial commission in May, he asked for another chance, saying he was sober and capable of handling court cases.

Commissioners reprimanded him and said in their 11-page ruling that "the public should be reassured that such actions by a judge are unethical and will not be overlooked."

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