Los Angeles County Superior Court. Photo by John Schreiber.
Los Angeles County Superior Court. Photo by John Schreiber.

The California Commission on Judicial Performance has publicly admonished a Los Angeles County judge, saying he mistreated several prospective jurors asking on hardship grounds to be excused from service in a murder trial.

The public admonishment was imposed on Superior Court Judge Edmund W. Clarke Jr., who works in downtown Los Angeles and has been on the bench for seven years.

The allegations stem from a hearing on May 6, 2014, when Clark was presiding over jury selection for a gang-related murder trial with four defendants. A commission statement said he belittled and mocked four jurors.

“The commission concluded that Judge Clarke’s mistreatment of prospective jurors eroded public confidence in the integrity and impatiality of the judicial system,” the statement said, asserting that the misconduct attributed to Clarke “demonstrates a pattern of discourteous and undignified treatment of jurors.”

In a statement released by his attorney, Clarke noted that the commission’s punishment went beyond the recommendation of a three-person evidentiary panel that heard his case, the Los Angeles Times reported. The panel said there was only misconduct involving one juror instead of four. Clarke plans to ask the state supreme court to review the commission’s decision, The Times reported.

“The decision chills the spontaneous and human interaction that is part of jury selection,” Clarke’s statement said.

—City News Service

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