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Los Angeles

Ex-Judge Accused of Unethical Conduct

Law: State commission alleges James R. Simpson improperly recalled a bench warrant for his campaign manager and tried to get favorable treatment for his friends.

July 03, 2002|JEAN GUCCIONE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A retired Glendale judge improperly recalled an arrest warrant for his former campaign manager and attempted to secure favorable treatment for friends with traffic tickets while he was on the bench, a state commission said Tuesday.

James R. Simpson, 66, who was granted disability retirement from Los Angeles County Superior Court in December, acted unethically when he recalled a bench warrant for his former campaign manager, Allen E. Brandstater, in September 1995, according to the state Commission on Judicial Performance.

Commission documents indicate that the Brandstater case, which was assigned to another judge, involved a 1993 citation that Brandstater received for an improper vehicle registration tag.

In another case, Simpson allegedly gave Brandstater, who pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence of alcohol, additional time in May 1998 to complete the court-ordered DUI first-offender treatment program and file proof that he attended 50 extra Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. The case was assigned to another judge after Simpson recused himself.

The commission accused Simpson of improperly seeking favorable treatment for friends from court commissioners and a Glendale police officer.

Simpson allegedly asked former Glendale Municipal Court Commissioner Dona Bracke on four occasions what could be done about traffic tickets issued to his friends.

He also allegedly asked Commissioner Steven K. Lubell about a $135 citation for driving an unregistered vehicle issued to Mark Enzenauer, a videographer and business associate of Brandstater.

Victoria B. Henley, the commission's director-chief counsel, said Tuesday she cannot discuss pending cases.

Simpson's attorney, Edward P. George Jr., was out of town and unavailable for comment.

Simpson has denied allegations that he tried to influence the handling of cases by court commissioners. The penalties he faces include censure and being barred from handling cases as a temporary judge.

A 1964 graduate of USC Law School, Simpson served as a deputy district attorney until being elected a Glendale Municipal Court judge in 1994.

He became a Superior Court judge in January 2000 when the courts were unified.

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