A state judicial commission on Thursday publicly admonished Alameda County Superior Court Judge Morris Jacobson for misconduct that included hitting a defense attorney on the hand in 2011.
The public admonition by the San Francisco-based Commission on Judicial Performance was also for a second count of using crude and inappropriate language when telling a female court administrator in 2016 about sexual misconduct by a Texas judge two decades earlier.
Jacobson agreed to the commission’s decision on both counts and agreed not to seek review of his case by the California Supreme Court.
According to facts agreed to by Jacobson, he hit the hand of a deputy public defender on June 29, 2011, after he called her up to the bench to apologize for having spoken sharply to her during an arraignment.
When she placed her hand on the bench while he was speaking, he “hit her hand, and inadvertently used enough force to leave a visible impression,” according to the facts Jacobson stipulated to.
The commission wrote:
“No attorney should fear being hit by the judge, whose duty it is to maintain a courtroom free of such conduct by any of the participants.”
The admonition is the third time the commission has rebuked Jacobson.
In 2012, it publicly admonished him for abuse of authority, abuse of the contempt power and poor demeanor toward an attorney in his courtroom. After he told the attorney to “spend every waking moment” working on a case, she answered she did not need his advice on how to be competent.
The judge then ordered her to wait in his courtroom for one and one-half hours and then ordered her to return in the afternoon for a contempt of court hearing. She was not found to have been in contempt.
The order requiring her to wait in his courtroom was “tantamount to punishing her for contempt without a hearing,” the commission said.
In 2010, the commission sent Jacobson a private advisory letter citing abuse of power and poor demeanor toward another lawyer.
Jacobson, a former Alameda County deputy district attorney, was appointed to the court by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2005. Jacobson won reelection in 2014 to a term that expires in January 2021.