The Commission on Judicial Performance Tuesday ordered the removal of a justice from the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles, finding he engaged in inappropriate conduct with women.
The commission’s findings regarding Justice Jeffrey W. Johnson become final in 30 days, subject to review by the state Supreme Court if the high court justices choose to do so.
Johnson’s lawyer, Paul S. Meyer, said his client will indeed petition the high court for review of the decision. He called the commission’s action an “unprecedented decision to remove a sitting justice after finding that he has not committed one act of willful misconduct and has never received any prior discipline.”
The decision “deprives the public of a diverse jurist who is universally acknowledged to be brilliant and exceptionally fair,” according to Meyer.
The entire decision involved “non-judicial social conversations,” Meyer said.
The commission said it ordered Johnson removed from office for 18 acts of prejudicial misconduct made up of more than 40 proven allegations. The commission found that Johnson engaged in the unwanted touching of four women; took part in conduct that would reasonably be perceived as sexual harassment of seven women at his court; misused the prestige of his position and demeaned his judicial office by attempting to develop personal relationships with three other women.
The commission further found that Johnson demeaned his office by his offensive conduct toward a fourth woman, as well as by multiple incidents of undignified conduct, including conduct at the Court of Appeal, while intoxicated. He also displayed a poor demeanor to co-workers and made a disparaging remark about judicial colleagues, according to the commission.
Johnson’s alleged misconduct was aggravated by his lack of candor throughout the commission proceedings, according to the commission, which found he “testified untruthfully in many instances.”
The commission is composed of six public members, three judges, and two lawyers.
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