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HOW THE CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE  POLITICIZED THE PROSECUTION OF JUDGE DIANA R. HALL

by Virginia McCullough
 

The pursuit of Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Diana R. Hall began three years ago today, December 21, 2002, with an argument between Judge Hall and her then domestic partner Deidra Dykeman.  These two independent women had careers in two very different fields.  Deidra Dykeman was a successful scientist and Diana Hall was equally successful as a judge.  Perhaps the wide variance in their career choices led to disputes in their personal lives.  Ms. Dykeman wanted their relationship to be "out of the closet" so that she would be openly acknowledged as Judge Hall's partner in all respects.  Judge Hall was reticent to announce her partnership with Deidra Dykeman because she recognized that Santa Barbara was a very conservative California county and she would have to run for re-election to maintain her status and further her career.

In court papers filed by Judge Hall's attorney Edith R. Matthai on November 30, 2005 the initial event that took place in the Dykeman/Hall home is described:

....... a brief recitation of the actual events of December 21, 2002, is provided here.  Ms. Dykeman and Judge Hall were not public about their relationship.  Only their families and a few close friends knew they were partners.  Judge Hall was simply not willing to deal with the prejudices that exist by publicly revealing their relationship.  The ridicule to which she has since been subjected demonstrates that her concern was quite rational.  Ms. Dykeman was less concerned about revealing their partnership and used Judge Hall's fear to manipulate the relationship.  On several occasions before December  2002, when Diana Hall stated her inclination to end the partnership, Ms. Dykeman threatened to call 911 to "out" the relationship.  When Ms. Dykeman returned home on December 21, 2002, an argument did take place.  Diana Hall announced her intention to end the relationship.  Deidra Dykeman called 911.  Diana protested, Deidra hung up.  The 911 operator called back and Ms. Dykeman stated "it is a domestic issue".  Diana Hall was indeed angry.  She knew that by policy the Sheriff would be dispatched and believed that her relationship would now become public, and she would now face the prejudice she had attempted to avoid.  Judge Hall expressed her disgust with Ms. Dykeman and threw the phone to the floor knowing 911 had already been dispatched since Deidra had stated it was a domestic issue.  Judge Hall returned to her bedroom, only then to hear Ms. Dykeman, from the other room, back on the phone with the 911 operator claiming that she had been assaulted.  The first mention of a gun on the 911 tape is by the operator who asks whether there is a gun in the house and upon an affirmative reply, asks whether Hall has the gun.  Dykeman replied that she does not.  Seconds later, presumptively inspired by the operator's suggestion, Dykeman claims that Hall does have the gun.  Dykeman remains on the phone with the 911 operator until after Hall leaves the house, reporting the location of both of them and ultimately reporting that the gun is "back" in the drawer in which it was always stored.  An analysis of the timing on the tape and the locations in the house establishes that Ms. Dykeman's claims are false.  The gun could not have been obtained and replaced in the times elapsed.

Ms. Dykeman's stories continued, with remarkable inconsistencies, following the incident.  She initially reported that there had been no physical assault, later claiming that there had been.  Since the assault did not happened, there was no physical evidence of an assault.  Yet, on continued questioning by the Sheriff, Dykeman's story grew to include a variety of conflicting claims of assault.

Judge Hall, as she has admitted throughout this ordeal, was guilty of one crime on December 21, 2002: driving under the influence of alcohol.  She had spent the evening in her pajamas enjoying a fireplace, reading magazines and talking to her family members on the phone while drinking wine.  She had no intention of leaving the house or getting into her car for any reason.  But with her judgment admittedly clouded by the wine and by the emotion of the argument, she left the house in her car.  She was stopped and arrested.

From that point forward, both women lost control of the situation.  The District Attorney pursued the case with a vengeance.  Despite Ms. Dykeman's expressed desire to have the charges dropped, the existence of the exculpatory 911 tape, the absence of any evidence of an assault, and in the face of the conflicting statements of Dykeman, the District Attorney pursued the case with charges that would require a mandatory state prison sentence.  At trial, Judge Hall faced the prospect that, if convicted, no judge could have mercy and she would thus spend her next years in the state penitentiary....  The jury recognized the absence of merit in the charges and found Judge Hall not guilty on all charges, other than the two she had admitted---driving under influence and breaking a telephone.  The latter charge was dismissed by the court in the interest of justice.  Judge Hall completed her sentence on the former. 

This scenario would have normally ended the pursuit of criminal charges against Judge Hall.  And perhaps it would have if Santa Barbara's District Attorney was not the infamous Tom Sneddon.  It is easy to remember Tom Sneddon.  He is the district attorney who spent untold thousands of taxpayers dollars in unsuccessfully pursuing Michael Jackson.  This DA is a man who takes no prisoners when he sets his sights on a target.  It  does not appear to matter to this long-time district attorney whether the cases he brings are morally correct as long as his prosecutions generate headlines.  The case might have questionable witnesses or weak evidence and his office might have conflicts of interests, but with his guaranteed immunity Tom Sneddon can pursue the people he selects with impunity.

In an interview with Sheriff Detective Kuhbander on December 27, 2002, Ms. Dykeman disclosed that she had given Judge Hall $20,000 for her judicial campaign.  She also repeatedly stated that she viewed those funds as "our money" because Judge Hall's election was a joint investment in their future.  Authorities knew about the source of these campaign funds and they knew that Judge Hall had described the funds as her own on campaign statements, but no charges were then brought against her for a violation of campaign laws by any of the agencies charged with oversight.

However, during the lesbian domestic violence trial the prosecution began to suspect that they were in danger of losing the trial.  Apparently, this fear created a desire to have a "back up" method of criminalizing Judge Hall thereby nullifying the negative publicity against DA Tom Sneddon that would be generated by the vindication of Judge Hall.

Shortly before Judge Hall was to be cross-examined in the domestic violence case the plan for the criminalization of Judge Hall was implemented.  Judge Halls' attorney Edith Matthai described what transpired in court papers:

The District  Attorney dispatched Investigator Sanders to interview Ms. Dykeman regarding the campaign violations shortly before Judge Hall was to be cross-examined in the domestic violence case.  In direct violation of statutory obligations and the discovery order made only days before, the interview was not disclosed to Judge Hall's counsel.  Also undisclosed was the warrant obtained days before for her bank records.  Instead, the District Attorney began questioning Judge Hall in a manner designed to obtain an admission that the campaign laws had been violated, an issue unrelated to the pending charges.  Neither Judge Hall nor her counsel had any idea at that time that there had been a violation of the campaign statutes and certainly neither realized that the District Attorney was setting up their next case with the questioning since to do so is blatantly improper.  Initially, taken by surprise, Judge Hall's counsel did not object.  Then, apparently not sure that she had gone far enough, the District Attorney (Ms. Smith) asked for a break.  Any doubt about her purpose is erased by the first question after the break: "You're aware that in testifying here today that Ms. Dykeman gave you a $25,000 loan, that you're required to disclose that amount in a campaign statement?"  The question was never answered by virtue of counsel's sustained objection to the question as irrelevant.

Had she been allowed to answer, Judge Hall would have stated "no" since she was not then aware (as she was not at the time of the campaign) that any campaign law had been violated.

After Judge Hall was acquitted on the domestic violence charges, the District Attorney, on the day of sentencing on the charges of driving under the influence, announced to the press that they were investigating "newly discovered" evidence that Judge Hall had violated the election laws.  Yet the charges were not filed.  Instead Judge Hall was subjected to months of having potential charges "hanging over her head" without knowing if they would be pursued.  She was also subjected to periodic press speculation about potential charges.  On May 14, 2004, nearly a year an a half after the District Attorney knew that the campaign funds had come from Ms. Dykeman criminal charges were filed against Judge Hall of the election violations.

However, every once in a while Justice peaks out from behind her blindfold and the best laid plans of mice and district attorneys are led astray.  The new judge sitting on the new criminal charges filed against Judge Hall did not have the stomach to become DA Sneddon's newest puppet.  Sneddon was removed from the Hall case as described in Edith Matthai's court papers:

Because of the misconduct detailed above the District Attorney (over their vehement objection) was disqualified from the case.  The judge ordering the disqualification described the conduct of the District Attorney's office as an "ambush" stating:

"But the point is Mr. Early [defense counsel] didn't know. the trial court didn't know, only Ms. Smith [the deputy District Attorney] knew what she was holding and she intended to use that to her advantage in violation of the court's express order."

The campaign violation case against Hall was now spun upward to the halls of power in the state capitol, Sacramento.  The Attorney General of California, Bill Lockyer, took over the case and ultimately introduced some reasonable solutions to the mess handed to him by DA Tom Sneddon.  Lockyer is a political animal who has, in his many years in elected office, built a  wide base of support from people who adhere to various beliefs and life styles.  Included in this group are well financed gay and lesbian groups who were beginning to take a close look at the Hall case because of the laws that apply differently to heterosexual and homosexual citizens who run for public office.  The attorney general has announced his plans to run for Governor in the next election and maintaining his support base is essential for his campaign.

Attorney Edith Matthai describes Attorney General Bill Lockyer's resolution in the Hall case in court papers:

The Attorney General of the State of California refiled, eliminating some of the charges, and ultimately agreed to a disposition which deferred prosecution until the commission proceedings concluded or for a year whichever was longer, if during that time Judge Hall obeys the law and does not handle campaign funds the charges will be dismissed.

This action resolved the issues that Judge Hall had with the Attorney General's office but it also married the resolution to the pending charges filed on July 25, 2005 by the regulatory body for judges -- the Commission on Judicial Performance.  The Commission had instituted formal proceedings against Judge Hall for willful misconduct in office, conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice that brings the judicial office into disrepute and improper action with the meaning of article VI, section 18 of the California Constitution providing for removal, censure, or public or private admonishment of a judge or former judge to wit: [Count One] the DUI charge dated 12-21-02,  [Count Two] the campaign violation charges dating from February of 2002 (and)  [Count Three]  A charge against her  stemming from Judge Hall's alleged questioning of a preemptory challenge (California Code of Civil Procedure section 170.6) brought by a deputy district attorney under DA Tom Sneddon.  The Commission stated that Judge Hall's conduct in Count Three was improper and violated the Code of Judicial, canons 1 and 2A.

On September 20, 2005 the Supreme Court of California, acting on a request from the Commission on Judicial Performance, appointed three special masters to the Hall Proceedings (designated No. 175): The Honorable George J. Abdallah, Superior Court of San Joaquin County,  the Honorable Mark R. Forcum, Superior Court of San Mateo County and the Honorable Michael S. Fields, Superior Court of Monterey County made up the panel appointed by the Supreme Court. Judge Michael S. Fields was designated presiding special master in the document signed by Chief Justice R. George.

Less then two months later, those is pursuit of Judge Diana R. Hall suddenly had the tables turned on them.  The evidentially hearing before the special masters began on November 14, 2005, at the Court of Appeal for the Second District, Division Six, in Ventura, California, and concluded for the purposes of hearing and taking evidence approximately midday on November 16, 2005.  The judges had been occupying comfortable accommodations at the exclusive Pierpoint Inn during the Hall hearings in Ventura.

Court papers prepared and filed with the California Supreme Court on December 15, 2005 by Jay Linderman, Legal Advisor to Commissioners Commission on Judicial Performance, state what happened next:

Later on November 16, 2005, the Commission was notified by the Executive Officer (Lisa Galdos)  and Presiding Judge (Stephen A. Sillman) of the Monterey County Superior Court that an individual who was not otherwise involved in the Hall Inquiry had filed a sworn declaration in unrelated civil litigation pending in the Superior Court of Monterey County (Monterey Declaration).   A true and correct copy of the Monterey Declaration that was provided that afternoon to the Commission was served on the parties and the special masters on November 17, 2005, and a true and correct copy thereof is attached hereto as Exhibit C and incorporated by reference herein. 

The Monterey Declaration contains allegations suggesting serious judicial conduct, including bias against Judge Hall, on the part of the presiding special master (Judge Michael S. Fields), and attributes statements to him that suggest that the three special masters had prejudged contested issues in the matter pending before them.  There has been substantial legal and general media coverage concerning the allegations.

On November 17, 2005, the Commission convened a meeting and issued its Order Staying Proceedings, a true and correct copy of which is attached hereto as Exhibit D and incorporated by reference herein.

On November 23, 2005, the Commission reconvened, and issued its Order re Future Proceedings in the Inquiry Concerning Judge Diana R. Hall.  A copy of that order is attached hereto as Exhibit E and incorporated by reference herein.  As recited in the order, notwithstanding that there has been no final determination concerning the accuracy, or lack thereof, of any of the allegations in the Monterey Declaration, the Commission determined that an appearance of impropriety has arisen and that the fairness of the proceedings should not continue before the current panel of special masters has been fundamentally and irreparably compromised.  Therefore, and because the interests of justice require fairness to all concerned, the Commission determined that the proceedings should not continue before the current panel of special masters, and that a new panel of special masters, to be appointed by this Court , should proceed de novo to hear and take evidence and report thereon to the Commission.

On November 30, 2005, Judge Hall filed with the Commission a request for the Commission to vacate its order of November 23, 2005, and to dismiss the Hall Inquiry.  A true and correct copy of Judge Hall's request (without exhibits) is attached hereto as Exhibit F and incorporated by reference herein.  Although Judge Hall "agrees that the matter could not go forward before the appointed Masters in light of [the Monterey Declaration]" (Exhibit F, p. 3), she urges that dismissal of the entire Hall Inquiry is required.

On December 14, 2005, the Commission denied Judge Hall's request of November 30, 2005 for recession and dismissal.  A true and correct copy of the Commission's "Order Denying Request for Rescission of Order of November 23, 2005 and for Dismissal of Proceedings" is attached hereto as Exhibit G and incorporated by reference herein.

Wherefore, the Commission hereby requests the Court to issue an Order relieving he current panel of special masters of their assignment as special masters, and directing the appointment of new special masters pursuant to established procedures, to proceed de novo to hear and take evidence and report thereon to the Commission.

The referenced "Monterey Declaration" is the declaration by former Monterey Court employee Crystal Powser.  This author's article about the Powser declaration was posted by NewsMakingNews.com on December 1, 2005. (Click.)  Included in this author's article was a (Click.) to the entire Powser declaration.

The Powser Declaration had been filed on November 16, 2005 in a unrelated lawsuit Eugene Forte vs. Robert O'Farrell.  Robert O'Farrell is a Monterey County Superior Court Judge defended by Supervising Deputy District Attorney General Paul T. Hammerness who works for Attorney General Bill Lockyer.  Seven days and five working days AFTER the Powser declaration was filed Mr. Hammerness succeeded in getting an order from visiting Judge Jack Golden dated November 23, 2005 simultaneously dismissing his client Judge O'Farrell from the Forte lawsuit and sealing the Powser declaration.  No media gag order was requested or granted.

Eighteen days after NewsMakingNews.com posted the article containing the Powser declaration, Deputy District Attorney General Paul T. Hammerness emailed this author attaching and referencing Judge Golden's order on 11/23/05.  The email also requested "In conformance with the court's order, I respectfully request that the link be removed".   A telephone call was made to attorney Hammerness on December 20, 2005 and it was explained to the gentleman that the Powser declaration had been public record for five working days before Judge Golden issued his order, that no media gag order existed that covered the Powser declaration and that the author was not under the jurisdiction of the Monterey Courts.  Mr. Hammerness' angry response was "I have warned you about this.  If you choose not to take it down until it is resolved, the web master will and if not, the provider will remove it."

The Powser declaration specified that Presiding Special Master Fields and two other special masters had pre-determined guilt in the Hall case and that rude remarks were made about Hall's former partner, Dykeman.  However, the declaration also graphically detailed invitations for specific heterosexual acts allegedly made by  Judge Michael Fields to former court employee Crystal Powser.

Ms. Powser was known to have been at least partly responsible for Monterey County Commissioner Rutledge's resignation from the court following her revelation of heterosexual acts performed on court property and on court time by Rutledge and Powser.  Judge Fields must have known that Crystal Powser was dangerous or "radioactive" and that she had no trouble revealing transgressions by judges and commissioners.  Why then would Judge Fields now in the sensitive position of judging another judge encourage Ms. Powser to join him for a tryst in accommodations reserved for the Commission on Judicial Performance's Special Masters?  Certainly Judge Fields is not a stupid man.  Had his pride in his power so clouded his mind lowered his morals that he assumed he was above the law?

It is interesting to note that the local district attorney, the California State Attorney General's Office and law enforcement do not make any moves against those involved in heterosexual sex play on the taxpayers time and dime but homosexual sex play is fair game for all regulatory agencies.  Bureaucrats apparently feel free to participate in the prosecution or persecution of those people whose life style is still discriminated against by the vocal public.

The case of Judge Hall has become forever tainted by prejudice and politics.  It is the ultimate example of political prostitution run amok.  Only total dismissal of all charges that are currently pending or being considered in the future can restore fundamental fairness to the case of Judge Diana R. Hall.

by Virginia McCullough ©12/21/05

 


Click. SUPREME COURT WILL APPOINT NEW SPECIAL MASTERS IN JUDGE DIANA R. HALL CASE

by Virginia McCullough