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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.

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-- Kurt Streeter

 
Comments () | Archives (57)

AND PEOPLE ARE SUPPOSED TO LIVE AN HONEST LIFE? Thank you for your corruption and special favors. You have convinced me to be dishonest, as you will use that against me, to lie and cheat whenever I can, and use my power to take and "make" people, because I'm in a position of power.

Thank you for showing us the true nature of our existing government and all other entities.

The People have learned that not one of you (judges, presidents, and the rest of the rotten bunch, can be trusted.

Yeh, I'm gonna live a different life.........

I'd love to hear the pastor's next sermon.

The rules are pretty simple, don't take cases with your friends or family, sounds like the judge just dismissed that for his own gain.

Funny how people who always use the phrase "we are a nation of laws" always condemn laws when it is in their interest!

Justice in America = the golden rule. He with the most gold rules.

What a joke.

Why are our comments never posted? Why have comments sections if they wont get posted? Maybe its time to find a different newspaper.

Thanks for the censorship LAT, you are getting really good at it.

I have a better idea-

Allow for people to go to traffic school, once a year, without paying a fine or 400%+ PA costs, which is insane. That's the way it used to be.

That's why, the only Judge I want to see is the hot redhead on The People's Court!

This doesn't surprise me in the least. They are guilty of far worse. If you are looking for justice, don't go to court.

This shoould be a felony. It destroys confidence in the system of justice. This should be treated as a crime far worse than assault or armed robbery. It tears the fabric of our society. Hard prison time is called for.

All the people who had their tickets fixed knew thats what was happening. They should all be held accountable for the tickets as if they did not pay them since that time, up their fines to what would be currently due, backdate them and notify there insurance companies so they can get hit in the pocket there too, if they can't pay the fine, haul them off to jail or perform community service. They should not get away with it. They are just as guilty as the ignorant jerk judge who fixed their tickets!

This man needs to be immediately removed from the bench and brought up on charges. He is obviously incapable of making fair and impartial judgments. He has flagrantly broken the law. I just got a ticket for going through a red light that had just changed from yellow. If you think fixing a ticket like this is no big deal you're wrong. That ticket cost $565.00. Too bad I'm not buddies with the "judge"...

No photo of the crooked, 3rd World judge, LA Times? Not PC, apparently.

This is NOTHING compared to how some other judges behave.

For a real shocker, read the comments about Judge Robert Leslie Hess of the Los Angeles Superior Court on the websites RateTheCourts.com, or CourthouseForum.com.

And the commission does absolutely nothing to control such gross misconduct!

Typical OC Republican...

Surprise Surprise another crooked judge who thinks he's God.

This Judge should be thrown in jail, welcome to America. Where everything revolves around MONEY and who you know. Every generation needs a REVOLUTION and this country is way past due. Crooked piece of S@#t.

Actually, what is equally disturbing, is the conduct of the Pastor. I am not so naive as to believe that this isn't happening everywhere on every level, and yes, I know, the old argument, a Pastor is still human, but, don't they have an obligation and responsibility to be an example, isn't it part of the job description? Yet, he asked to be excused from the judicial procedure and put his friend, the judge, in a compromising position out of self interest. It is true that Judge Stanford has his own judicial oath and moral code to uphold...both failed miserably.

Yes maybe the judge over-stepped his authority and made a series of poor decisions, but what most of you do not know is that Judge Stanford has for years been very involved and committed to running a homeless outreach program for many poor people of all ages and races. Judge Stanford usually is at the shelter three to four nights a week, and works with local hotels and motels to secure low cost rooms that are paid for with donations from the church.

Any of you who are perfect can feel free to cast the first stone. Otherwise, take ten minutes to think of your actions of the past five years to see if you are qualified to pass judgement on Judge Stanford.

Right... like the corrupt judge JUST NOW understands that what he was doing was unethical and grounds for being removed from the bench... He should have thought of that before demonstrating blatant judicial favoritism. I'm sure that Judge Stanford will get off with a super-light slap on the wrist though, as I have no faith in a commission composed of other jdges and political appointees to actually do anything substantive.

just wait til the corporations take over the govt. then your money will really buy your freedom

Its gotta be the illegals fault right? He must be Hispanic?

His fat butt will walk with nothing. I'd be surprised to see if he received any punishment.

Corrupt monkey-business as usual disguised or cloaked as the judiciary...disgusting !

 
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