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Opening 2015 with an Investigation

2014 was the year of judge mishaps. The year closed with another inquiry into a judge's behavior toward a subordinate. Thus 2015 opens with the news of yet another California judge's indiscretions in and out of his chambers.

The Commission on Judicial Performance publicly charged Tulare County Judge Valeriano Saucedo of inappropriate conduct. It all started with a “special friend” request from Saucedo to a female clerk that worked in his courtroom. The judge presented an anonymous letter addressed to the clerk, claiming that a copy had been sent to her husband's workplace. As a favor, Saucedo said he could have the letter destroyed before it reached the clerk's husband.

Saucedo asked for the female employee's trust in the matter; he claimed he would take care of the situation and her. Allegedly, the judge had written the letter himself.

Keeping his promise of taking care of the clerk, Saucedo then began showering her with gifts and financial perks. He sent her flowers, commanding her to pretend they were from her husband, paid for a Disneyland trip for her family, and bought her a new car. The clerk allegedly had extreme financial issues—sometimes with only $10 to her name—so Saucedo supplemented her income. On one occasion, the judge gave his clerk $8,000 to pay for expenses related to the Disneyland trip that had not been previously paid for.

Soon, the perks seem to turn into a kind of obsession. The Commission presented numerous text messages where Saucedo told her that he needed to hear from her. He asked her if he was her “ordinary friend” or “special friend.”

At this point, the clerk was troubled at the sheer amount of text messages and correspondence she was receiving from Saucedo. She had denied a request to turn the relationship romantic and now felt the need to tell her husband of the situation.

Saucedo threatened that her job was “toast” and that he was going to commit suicide. The clerk threatened to call 911. Two weeks after the altercation, she requested a transfer to a different courtroom.

While a Commission investigation is underway, it is not a lawsuit…yet. We will keep you posted if the clerk decides to pursue action in civil court.

Source: Daily Journal

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