SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A Contra Costa County judge who has previously been disciplined
five times by a judicial commission now faces two new charges of ethics violations, the commission announced Tuesday.

The San Francisco-based California Commission on Judicial Performance said Tuesday it initiated formal proceedings against Superior Court Judge Bruce Mills in connection with his conduct in two cases.

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Mills, 62, a judge since 1995, has until Oct. 31 to file a written answer to the administrative charges. The agency will then schedule a hearing before a panel of special masters appointed by the California Supreme Court.

The panel will submit its report to the 11-member commission, which has the options of dismissing charges, publicly or privately admonishing a judge, censuring the judge or removing the judge from office.

Its decisions can be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the new charges, Mills is accused of telling a man in a family law case, Joseph Sweeney, that he would get good-time credit for half of a 25-day sentence for contempt of court, but then denying the credit until Sweeney’s lawyer told the judge in a letter that his client was entitled to the credit by law.

In a second case, Mills is alleged to have improperly talked to a prosecutor during jury deliberations in a drunk-driving case about how to use evidence from breath-analysis machines.

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Mills is charged with “willful misconduct, conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice that brings the judicial office into disrepute, and improper action” in those two cases, the commission’s notice of formal proceedings said.

In previous proceedings, Mills was publicly admonished by the commission in 2013 for talking privately to a court clerk and a temporary judge about his desired outcome in a case concerning his teenage son.

In 2006, he was publicly admonished for having one-sided contact with a defendant and her lawyer and for making demeaning and insulting remarks to people appearing before him.
Mills was privately admonished for misconduct in other cases in 2001, 2008 and 2011, according to the commission’s notice.

The commission is made up of six public members, three judges and two lawyers.

Mills, a former deputy district attorney, was appointed a municipal court judge by Gov. Pete Wilson in 1995 and became a superior court judge three years later when the two courts merged.

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