SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-A Southern California judge was removed from the bench this week for filing a fraudulent expense report for a 2006 judicial conference and then lying about her attendance.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Kelly MacEachern was removed from the bench by the Commission on Judicial Performance on Thursday.
The commission found that MacEachern sought reimbursement for three nights at a hotel and six days of meals as part of a San Diego judicial education conference.
However, conference organizers reported MacEachern had only been registered for one half-day class.
The commission concluded that she spent some of the week vacationing in San Diego with her family.
"The lack of integrity manifested by her misconduct, compounded by her lack of candor in response to the commission's investigation and deceitful testimony under oath before the masters, compels our conclusion that removal is necessary to protect the public and maintain public trust in the integrity of the judiciary," a commission majority wrote.
Signing the majority opinion were Fourth District Justice Judith McConnell, San Francisco Judge Katherine Feinstein, attorney member Marshall Grossman, and public members Samuel Hardage, Barbara Schraeger, Maya Dillard Smith and Nathaniel Trives.
Commissioners Peter Flores Jr., a deputy attorney general, and non-lawyers Lawrence Simi and Sandra Talcott voted against removing MacEachern, saying public censure would be more appropriate.
MacEachern is the fourth trial court judge ousted by the commission in the last 18 months. She can appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court.
"Removal is the ultimate sanction for a judge," the commissioners wrote in their dissenting opinion. "We do not feel this one-time error in judgment and behavior, albeit highly egregious, rises to that level."
Of the eight judges previously removed from the bench, six sought Supreme Court review, but none were successful.
From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.