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CA Judge Faces Discipline

by TChris

After failing to appear in response to traffic citations issued in 1995 and 1996, Debra Fuentes was taken into custody and posted bail. She presented Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kevin Ross with a "Wrong Defendant Declaration" indicating that at least one of the citations was issued to someone else. The description on one citation matched Fuentes, but the other citation described "someone who was older, taller, and skinnier."

Nonetheless, Judge Ross concluded that the declaration was false, and ordered that Fuentes be charged under a statute that makes it a crime to provide false evidence of insurance -- a statute that plainly didn't apply to Fuentes. Fuentes sat in jail for two days until she could post bail on that charge. All charges against her have since been dismissed.

Now the judge is in hot water with the Commission on Judicial Performance. Apart from ordering Fuentes to be charged with a crime she clearly didn't commit, the judge took on the dual role of law enforcement officer and prosecutor by deciding that Fuentes should be taken into custody and charged with a crime.

To his credit, Judge Ross admits he erred. But he's also facing discipline for ordering a defense lawyer out of the courtroom while he sentenced her client and for having improper contact with another defendant outside the presence of the lawyers in the case.

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