SOLANO COUNTY (CBS SF) — Solano County Superior Court Judge Daniel Healy was publicly admonished by a state commission today for referring to parents in family law cases with denigrating words such as “rotten,” “stupid and sluggish,” and “total human disaster.”
The admonition was issued in a nine-page decision by the San Francisco-based state Commission on Judicial Performance.
The commission said Healy’s “multiple denigrating and undignified remarks” to parents in six different cases in 2012 and 2013 violated the California Code of Judicial Ethics, which requires judges to be “patient, courteous and dignified” toward litigants.
Healy, 54, a former criminal defense lawyer, was elected by county voters to Superior Court in 2010 and took office in January 2011.
He is no longer assigned to family law cases and now handles criminal cases at the court’s Vallejo branch, according to the court.
In one family law case in 2013, the commission said, Healy referred to a mother accused of driving while intoxicated with her child in the car as “rotten,” “a train wreck,” a “liar” and a “total human disaster.”
The commission said Healy also tried to intervene, unsuccessfully, with another judge to urge further investigation before the father in that same case was made subject to an arrest warrant for alleged domestic violence.
Healy’s attempt to influence another judge “constituted a failure to uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary,” the commission said.
In another case in 2012, according to the ruling, Healy told a mother, “If you are exposing your daughter to one-fifth of the attitude I’m getting from you right now, you might as well have her start walking the streets as a hooker.”
Such words “are the antithesis of imparting the importance of respect,” the commission said.
A public admonition is the middle of five possible punishments the commission can impose. The two more severe punishments are public censure or removal from office, and the two lesser sanctions are a private advisory letter or private admonition.
The commission said that Healy had acknowledged at a hearing before the commission that his remarks were improper, but argued that “blunt and evocative language” was sometimes necessary to make parents aware of their situation and the alleged harm to their children.
Healy’s lawyer, James Murphy, said today the judge “understands the significance of the commission’s decision. He agrees the matters could have been handled differently and has apologized to the commission.”
The attorney said, “These are high-conflict cases. He was trying to protect the children and impress upon their parents their responsibility to the children.”
The commission, chaired by Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Erica Yew, is made up of three judges, two lawyers and six public members.
The decision to issue a public admonition was made by a unanimous vote of 10 members. The 11th member did not participate.
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