California Superior Court Judge Paul Zellerbach is apparently a big baseball fan. So take him out to the ball game, take him out with the crowd?
Actually, on second thought, don’t:
A Riverside Superior Court judge who delayed the taking of a verdict in a murder trial because he was attending an Angels playoff game in Anaheim was publicly admonished yesterday by the Commission on Judicial Performance.
Judge Paul Zellerbach violated ethics rules requiring that judges give precedence to their duties above all other matters, dispose of their cases promptly and efficiently, and promote public confidence in the judiciary, the CJP found in a 6-4 decision….
A few more details — including how the game went — after the jump.
So here’s more about what happened:
The charges arose from the 2004 murder trial of Joseph Francis Close, convicted of second degree murder in the deaths of his girlfriend and their unborn child. Prosecutors said deliberately crashed his car and was drunk.
The case went to the jury on Oct. 4. The judge left court late on the morning of Oct. 5 to attend the Angels game that afternoon against the Boston Red Sox at what was then Edison International Field of Anaheim. (The Red Sox won the game, 9-3, en route to a sweep of the series.)
The commission explained that Zellerbach arranged to have Judge Robert Spitzer answer any question that the jury might have, but made no arrangements to have another judge take the verdict, which came in about 2:30 p.m. Unable to reach the judge immediately by cell phone, the clerk contacted Judge Christian Thierbach, who offered to take the verdict. The attorneys were notified to be present in court at 3:30 p.m.
Zellerbach, however, returned the call before that time and said he wanted to take the verdict himself the next day, even though the attorneys said they did not want the verdict delayed. Zellerbach then took the verdict the next day.
We’re not huge sports fans around here, but we’re with Judge Zellerbach on this one. C’mon, Commission members, lighten up!
Homicide trials are a dime a dozen. But how often do the Angels play the Red Sox?
CJP Rebukes Judge Who Went to Game While Jury Deliberated [Metropolitan News-Enterprise (L.A.)]