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Conduct Hearing for Judge Is Halted

A disciplinary inquiry is stopped after a member of the panel allegedly makes disparaging sexual remarks about the jurist.

November 25, 2005|From Associated Press

SANTA BARBARA — A disciplinary inquiry into a judge's conduct was halted this week after a member of the fact-finding panel allegedly made disparaging sexual comments about the judge, an official said.

The Commission on Judicial Performance stopped the inquiry after learning of the alleged comments by Monterey County Superior Court Judge Michael S. Fields, said Victoria Henley, the commission's director and chief counsel.

Fields is one of three judges investigating the conduct of Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Diana R. Hall.

According to a declaration filed by a former Monterey County court clerk, Fields made fun of Hall for being a lesbian and having a girlfriend whose last name was Dykeman.

"Judge Fields said that they already decided she [Judge Hall] was guilty of all three allegations," the former clerk, Crystal Powser, said in her declaration, which she filed in connection with an unrelated court case.

"He also made fun of the fact that her girlfriend's name was Dykeman and that he wasn't sure which one was the man or which one played the woman part," Powser's declaration states.

Powser alleges that Fields made the comments to her in a Ventura hotel room Nov. 15.

Fields on Wednesday declined to comment on the allegations against him.

"I would love to be able to talk about it," he said. "Unfortunately, I am ethically bound not to talk about pending matters."

The Hall inquiry stopped Nov. 17 when Powser filed her declaration. The allegations, though unsubstantiated, "suggest at least the appearance of impropriety," the judicial commission chairman, Marshall B. Grossman, wrote in an order issued Wednesday.

The inquiry will resume at an undetermined date with a new panel of judges, the order states.

The panel is looking into allegations that Hall failed to report a $20,000 campaign contribution in 2002 from her live-in partner, Deidra Dykeman.

The panel also is looking into Hall's 2003 drunk driving conviction and her allegedly improper response to being disqualified from hearing a domestic violence case in June 2001.

Hall has said she misunderstood financial disclosure laws and did nothing wrong in the domestic violence case.

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