Backlash causing judges to be removed?
Kelly MacEachern is the first judge to be removed from Orange County's bench (California).
COURTESY OF KELLY MACEACHERN
O.C. judge plans to appeal ouster
Judge Kelly MacEachern committed 'willful misconduct' by filing false and misleading expense claims, state commission finds.
By RACHANEE SRISAVASDI
The Orange County Register
Orange County Superior Court Judge Kelly MacEachern plans to appeal a state commission's decision to remove her from the bench for allegedly falsifying an expense report and then lying about it while under oath.
Paul Meyer, one of MacEachern's attorneys, said Thursday that an appeal to the Commission on Judicial Performance's decision is "merited," but declined to elaborate.
MacEachern, who just finished presiding over a rape trial in Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach Wednesday, declined to comment.
"It's very, very hard for her," said her husband, defense attorney Michael B. McClellan. "It's just terribly unfair and harsh. She's had a long and very good career … she's a good judge who is well respected. I'm proud of her and her achievements."
MacEachern – a former prosecutor who won a contested election to the bench in 2002 – is the first judge ever to be removed since the Orange County bench was formed in 1952.
At issue: The judge's alleged misrepresentations in an August 2006 e-mail to a county staffer saying she had "sat in" on two classes on different days and therefore should get approximately $200 in hotel reimbursement.
"The lack of integrity manifested by her misconduct, compounded by her lack of candor in response to the commission's investigation and deceitful testimony under oath … compels our conclusion that removal is necessary to protect the public and maintain public trust in the integrity of the judiciary," the commission wrote.
Last August, the commission began investigating MacEachern after finding out she was not registered for classes she said she attended in the e-mail.
The agency accused her of making "false and misleading assertions" to get reimbursement for a civil law conference held from July 31 to Aug. 4, 2006.
The commission – a mix of judges, lawyers and private citizens who discipline judges – voted 7 to 3 in favor of removing MacEachern, 54. Orange County Superior Court Judge Frederick Horn, the commission's chair, recused himself from the case.
"We are concerned that the traits and lack of judgment that led to the misconduct in this case could lead to future improper actions demeaning to the esteem of the judiciary," the commission also wrote. "This is a risk we cannot run and still fulfill our responsibility to protect the public and the reputation of the judiciary."
In January, MacEachern took the stand in a two-day hearing, calling the e-mail a "badly phrased missive."
"It was never, never my intention to mislead," she told a three-judge panel tasked with investigating her conduct.
But in its decision Thursday, the commission characterized MacEachern's testimony as "calculated, not careless," saying she did not attend either the "Excellence in Judging" class or the domestic violence workshop – despite her representations.
"In an attempt to cover-up her wrongdoing, Judge MacEachern lied not only about the intent of her words, but also about her presence in certain classes," the commission wrote.
"Particularly troubling is Judge MacEachern's willingness to lie under oath to these three (judges) appointed by the Supreme Court," the commission also wrote.
MacEachern was suspended immediately Thursday. The commission's decision becomes final in 30 days, subject to discretionary review by the state Supreme Court.
Local judges have been admonished and censured before, but none has been ousted.
Statewide, 23 other judges have been removed by the commission or the state Supreme Court, according to the commission's director Victoria Henley. Most of the cases also involve findings of willful misconduct – the most serious grounds for judicial censure or removal.
Contact the writer: 714-834-3773 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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[click here] for the comment in a previous post, scroll down, is how I found the above story.
The above subject expanded on [here]