L.A. NOW

Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Longtime judge accused of fixing traffic tickets for friends, minister, co-workers

A longtime Orange County judge accused of waiving traffic fines for friends, co-workers and even his minister has been ordered to appear before a statewide judicial panel that could recommend his removal from office.

The hearing will examine a series of traffic cases that Judge Richard Stanford, a jurist in Orange County Superior Court since 1998, ended up handling for acquaintances, relatives and others.

At issue is whether Stanford violated ethics rules by first having the traffic citations transferred to his courtroom and then granting special favors such as waiving fines without following proper courtroom rules.

The complaint from the Commission on Judicial Performance formally documents nine allegations of misconduct from 2003 to 2010.

Typical is a case involving Edwin Jay Williams, who the commission says is the pastor of the Fullerton church Stanford’s family attends, and the judge’s friend.

In 2003, Williams was given a traffic ticket for running a red light. The complaint notes that Stanford and Williams discussed the matter. Then, although “the case would not have come before you in the ordinary course of judicial business, you transferred the matter to your department,” the commission wrote.

Judges are barred by ethics rules from hearing cases involving family and friends. Nonetheless, Stanford ordered traffic school and waived all fines except $52 for the school and another small fee, according to the commission. Stanford allegedly handled a speeding ticket given to Williams in 2006 in a similar way.

The commission alleged that Stanford intervened in cases and dismissed traffic fines for a juror serving in his courtroom, several family friends, his son-in-law and his own court clerk.

Stanford declined comment, but his attorney released a statement saying the judge “apologizes for his actions.”

Although “no tickets were dismissed, and only discretionary fines and fees were waived, Judge Stanford now clearly realizes that in these nine traffic infractions in the last 10 years he gave preferential treatment which violated the standards of conduct," according to the statement released by attorney Paul Meyer.

The statement said the judge “wrongly rationalized” that his actions “were saving time for the court and resulted in the same [Department of Motor Vehicle] records as if the people had come to court.”

Despite the admission, a formal hearing will take place this summer, likely by June, said Victoria Henley, director and counsel for the commission, which oversees the conduct of judges statewide.

Henley would not comment on the case other than to note that the commission typically receives around 1,100 judicial complaints each year and of those only two or three typically end up with a formal hearing.

If the commission determines that the allegations are true, Stanford could be censured, publicly admonished, privately disciplined or removed from the bench, Henley said.  She added that the commission cannot file criminal charges, but the Orange County district attorney or the California attorney general could.

Stanford, once a municipal court judge in Orange County, has overseen a number of high-profile cases during his Superior Court tenure. Among them are several child abuse trials and a murder case involving the death of racing legend Mickey Thompson and his wife.

In 2005, an appeals court voided a murder conviction handed down in Stanford’s court when it was concluded the veteran judge denied the defendant’s due process during jury instructions.

ALSO:

Coast Guard finds two men who had been missing at sea

Villaraigosa to focus on schools in state of the city speech

Water pipe bursts at Burbank library, damaging 2,000 books

-- Kurt Streeter

 
Comments () | Archives (57)

It continues to be who you know, not what you know. Right?

grantus

Justice in America? What a joke. Justice in the USA amounts to how much "justice" you can afford. With more people in prison than in any other country
in the world, it is evident that American "justice" is big business. The idea of equality under the law is a joke in this country.

When it comes to corruption, Judge Stanford is strictly bush league. Dismissing a ticket for an old friend seems harmless compared to the cronyism, patronage, and graft of the US political system. Of course, the judge will have to resign in disgrace; it's business as usual for the creeps who have ruined our country and don't get the exposure they deserve from news outlets like the Times.

This should also show that judges have way to much power and it's time to make some changes.

Didn't Obama run an entire campaign on "CHANGE" well nothing seems to have changed :(

At issue is whether Stanford violated ethics rules by first having the traffic citations transferred to his courtroom and then granting special favors such as waiving fines without following proper courtroom rules."

Shouldn't he be fired or should we allow him to continue judging other people while he picks and choses who should and who should not be paying traffic fines.
If this judge keeps his job I'm giving up all "HOPE" for our judicial system.

If judges r like that imagine how biased, imapartial, unprofessional some police and prosecutors can be

Does this surprise you?

How are we suppose to discuss this when you won't post our comments?

This was posted at April 13, 2011 | 6:41 am that's 2 hours ago!

Yup. Just the latest example of the taxpayer getting their money's worth from public employees.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely!

Funny thing about criminals - they always get caught.

For anyone else it would be conspiracy to defraud the public, by waiving fees the state and County would normally collect. Its time we repeal judicial and prosecutorial immunity and start putting these criminals in prison and holding them responsible for thier lies and omissions.

Geez. I wonder how much money he cost the county by waiving their citations? Gotta be a lot. Take it out his pension. If he has one.

Nice you are my friend now judge.

Power corrupts! The more laws, the more law breakers, the more deals. Laws too often DO NOT protect. War on Drugs??

It's call "perks"!

Awwww come on.... What judge doesn't do that.... I would be amaze if they didn't help out friends and family...so write about that..... sigh....

?
Please let me know if I broke some rules when I left my comment.

Strange how I take the time to write a comment only for it to be deleted by the editors.

Oh well I shouldn't be leaving comments anyways.
Thanks for waking me up, I won't bother you with any more comments.

............. back to eating your bacon donut now ...........

Basically this judge has just given any prospective election opponents THE issue to vote him out on should he have opponents at the next election (and let's hope he does!). He should resign and save everyone the trouble though!

Truthfully, I don't think he should be removed from the bench unless he "fixed" a major violation like a DUI. Chances are good that a minister would have been able to talk his ticket down to the same thing based on income. Yes, he overstepped his authority, but it's not anything different that many others have done. They just didn't get caught at it. Plus, there are many tickets waived at the get go becuase the offender knows someone and drops a name.

I would do it for "ALL" my friends and family……

That's why I am not judge.

Commissions do not allege. Commissions find.

Although “no tickets were dismissed, and only discretionary fines and fees were waived, Judge Stanford now clearly realizes that in these nine traffic infractions in the last 10 years he gave preferential treatment which violated the standards of conduct," according to the statement released by attorney Paul Meyer.

It is sad that it takes a commission finding of fault and a real chance at being canned for the "Judge" to realize his actions where illegal under the law governing his conduct as a "Judge."

1 Corrupt "Judge" down, 429 more corrupt "judges" to go.

When it comes to corruption this one takes the cake....
Ive been involved in a domestic violence/custody case for

almost 4 years with Judge Scott Gordon. I have done all I can to protect myself and son from my ex boyfriend who has constantly violated all orders from restraining orders to visitation to missing court dates, he has been in and out of jail, has drugs, criminal, kidnap, gun and previous domestic violence charges. The Judge once told me he would no longer grant me a restraining order because he assumed I would go back to the relationship during this time I was physically abused infront of my son and ended up in the hospital. The police and social services have failed to protect my son from such an abusive person who fails to follow the law. I have years of documentation and witnesses to the abuse my son and have encountered. Please help me, we need more help from the courts, police and children services for protection.



Remenver the Godfather, well, the judges are human and have friens, the rest is bullshit.

This is just the tip of the ice burgh we need to audit these jokers I worked as a clerk for a traffic court judge and I have to tell you they are the most unscrupulous people, they do favors for there friends and family and who knows while the rest of us are subject to horrible fines for the most inane infractions broken tail light or head lamps is very common to become an 800 dollar fine !

They do this in Van Nuys traffic court all the time. It's more like if you have a lawyer and they put up a good show the judge is appeased as it was a court jester. Also if it the end of the day the judge wants no more paperwork so he can get out and spend his publicly funded paycheck and dismisses the ticket.

 
1 2 3 | »

Connect

Recommended on Facebook


Advertisement

In Case You Missed It...

Video

About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
Have a story tip for L.A. Now?
Can I call someone with news?
Yes. The city desk number is (213) 237-7847.

Categories




Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: