Lesbian judge investigated for allegedly threatening partner
A judge in Santa Barbara County, Calif., has been arrested on suspicion of drunk driving and could face additional charges after allegedly brandishing a pistol during an argument with her lesbian partner at their house near Solvang, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Superior court judge Diana R. Hall, assigned to the county's Lompoc courthouse, was arrested December 21 after sheriff's deputies received an emergency call from her domestic partner, Deidra Dykeman, officials said. Sgt. Phil Willis, a Santa Barbara County sheriff's department spokesman, said Thursday that laboratory tests showed that Hall's blood-alcohol content was .18 at the time of her arrest, more than twice California's legal limit of .08. After being held for four hours at the department's Santa Ynez Valley station, Hall was released to her attorney, Willis said.
Assistant district attorney Christie Stanley said Friday that the lab tests support a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol. Whether any additional charges are filed will depend on completion of an investigation that is still under way, she said. Arraignment has been set for January 22.
Hall, 52, was appointed a municipal court judge in 1990 and was elevated to the superior court in 1998 when the two judicial systems were consolidated. She previously had served as a prosecutor in Shasta County for three years and as a deputy district attorney in Santa Barbara County for a decade.
According to court documents, Hall and Dykeman bought their Santa Ynez Valley home together and had been in a domestic partner relationship for about four years. An application for a restraining order, sought by Dykeman to prevent the judge from returning to the house, said the two got into an argument during which Hall allegedly grabbed a .38-caliber handgun from a bedroom drawer and threatened to shoot one of the couple's two dogs.
Dykeman said Hall also broke a telephone when she first tried calling 911, pulled her hair, and tried to follow her into their garage as she fled from the judge. Dykeman then ran from the house, and Hall drove away a short time later, according to the restraining order request. The judge did not take the gun with her in the car, officials said.
Santa Barbara attorney William Gamble, who is representing Hall, said Friday that Hall is distraught over the situation and prepared to plead guilty to drunk driving to put a quick end to the issue. If additional charges are filed, she will contest them, he said. "Judge Hall's 52, and she's never done anything wrong in her life," Gamble said. "She doesn't remember threatening to shoot one of the dogs, and she absolutely wouldn't have done something like that. She is a very gentle person. I think she has the gun for self-protection."
Gamble said that Hall has no record of alcohol-related trouble or legal problems of any kind. He said she had been feeling a lot of pressure in recent months because defense lawyers in the Lompoc area viewed her as too tough. "She is very straitlaced," he said.