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VENTURA COUNTY NEWS

Bradley Gets Jail for Drinking on Probation

May 10, 2000|TRACY WILSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Former Judge Robert C. Bradley on Tuesday was ordered to serve 34 days in jail for violating the terms of his probation by drinking alcohol.

Bradley, 59, who already has served two jail sentences for alcohol-related arrests in recent years, appeared upset as Judge Denise de Bellefeuille issued the sentence in Santa Barbara County Superior Court.

With deputies waiting to take him into custody, Bradley asked the judge to give him a few hours to "get his affairs in order." De Bellefeuille agreed and told Bradley to turn himself in to authorities by 9 p.m. Tuesday.

"For God's sake," she warned, "don't drink any alcohol between now and 9 p.m."

Bradley then asked the judge to allow him to serve his sentence at a Ventura County Jail, where he would be isolated from other inmates because of his former position as a Superior Court judge.

But De Bellefeuille, who took the case because of a conflict with Bradley's former colleagues in Ventura County, refused.

"No, you're going to try our program," she said, assuring Bradley that no one in the Santa Barbara County Jail would know him.

The hearing closed another chapter in Bradley's struggle with alcohol, which ended his judicial career after 16 years.

Bradley was disqualified from the bench after drunk-driving arrests in December 1997 and January 1998. He then violated the terms of his probation four times. He did not seek reelection.

In August 1998, Bradley was ordered to serve six months in Ventura County Jail for a probation violation. A state judicial commission later banned him from serving as a judge again, unless he could prove that his alcoholism was under control.

Last summer, Bradley seemed headed toward that goal after being hired as an attorney for Cohen, Alexander & Clayton, a Thousand Oaks law firm that specializes in estate planning, business and family law.

But after months of public sobriety, he was arrested March 15 on suspicion of prowling near his Ventura home while intoxicated. He was charged with a probation violation and last month admitted to the offense.

On Tuesday, state prosecutors, who did not press a prowling charge, urged De Bellefeuille to sentence Bradley to one year in jail. Deputy Atty. Gen. Robert Snider argued that Bradley doesn't deserve any more chances.

"I think the message the court received is 180 days didn't work," Snider said, referring to Bradley's most recent jail sentence.

But defense attorney Tim Quinn, who represented Bradley during the hearing, argued that additional jail time wasn't warranted. He argued that Bradley has made great strides in his personal and professional life in the last year by securing a job, buying a home and even coaching a high school mock trial team.

Bradley has attended "almost nightly" meetings for recovering alcoholics, Quinn added, calling his client's recent probation violation a "relapse."

"Mr. Bradley used alcohol for many, many years," Quinn said. "He is new at recovery. I think the court should recognize that."

De Bellefeuille asked Bradley, seated in court in a dark blue suit, if he wanted to make any additional comments.

"I don't know what I could add that Mr. Quinn hasn't already said," Bradley responded.

De Bellefeuille excused the lawyers for about an hour while she considered the sentence. When they returned, she told Bradley: "I just can't look askance at the fact you have used alcohol again. I can't. . . . I am going to punish you for this violation. You're going into custody."

The judge said that 34 days is a common "dry out" period ordered by the Santa Barbara County courts. If Bradley violates probation again, he will face up to a year in jail, she said.

After the hearing, Snider expressed disappointment with the decision. "We thought more time should have been imposed," he said.

Quinn and Bradley declined to comment.

During the hearing, Quinn indicated that Bradley's firm continues to support him. De Bellefeuille said that someone else will have to handle Bradley's workload for the next month.

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