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San Diego County judge accused of 'willful misconduct'

September 23, 2010 |  7:52 pm

Deann A San Diego County Superior Court judge has been charged with "willful misconduct" by the State Commission on Judicial Performance for three dozen allegedly mocking, rude and slightly off-color comments from the bench aimed at prosecutors, defense attorneys, defendants and court employees.

One charge against Judge DeAnn M. Salcido is that she arranged to have her courtroom filmed as part of a pitch to a Hollywood producer for her to star in a reality television show. During the filming, according to the commission's allegations, Salcido said numerous things that could be seen as bringing the judicial system into disrepute.

Salcido, a UCLA law school graduate and former deputy district attorney in San Diego and Los Angeles counties, has denied any wrongdoing.

The commission, which has the authority to privately scold, publicly censure or remove a judge, has informed Salcido that she has 20 days to respond to the allegations.

While being filmed, Salcido, among other things, allegedly noted that a defendant had spent 72 days in custody for urinating in public and exposing himself. She then added, "Wow. Seventy-two days in custody, giving new meaning to the term zip it."

She has used the words "screwed" and "booty call," mocked a criminal defendant who said he wanted to enlist in the military, and said she would put a defendant in jail if she found out he was drinking Budweiser rather than Heineken, according to the commission allegations.

On another occasion, she allegedly said of a prosecutor that if a criminal defendant says he wants to enlist in the military "he practically drives you there." And on another occasion, she supposedly ripped up a letter from a physician saying that a female defendant could not appear in court because she was pregnant.

When a defendant appeared in court wearing an Oakland Raiders jersey, Salcido allegedly pointed to two doors in the courtroom. The exit door, she said, is "the Charger door" while the door leading to jail is "the Raider door."

She then allegedly turned to a woman in the courtroom who knew the defendant and asked, "Would you say he's smart, coming here in a Raiders' shirt? No? What does that say about you, Dena, and the kind of men you pick?"

In another case, she alleged that "a friend of mine" saw a Charger star -- whose name she mentioned -- using drugs.

She supposedly warned a defendant not to trust giving information to court clerks: "Sir, most of these clerks, I would not trust a guinea pig to. Let alone my freedom."

And when a defendant supposedly called her ''sir," Salcido pushed back her chair, raised her leg and, holding the leg by the ankle, asked, "Do these look like the boots of a sir?"

Salcido was appointed to the bench in 2002 by then Gov. Gray Davis and was reelected this year despite a run-in with other judges after claiming they were not tough enough on sexual predators. 

-- Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: Superior Court Judge DeAnn Salcido. Credit: KGTV-Channel 10