Trial begins for judge accused of threatening partner

BY admin

August 21 2003 12:00 AM ET

Prosecutors called a Santa Barbara, Calif., judge accused of waving a gun at her domestic partner a "nasty drunk," while defense lawyers argued in opening statements that the judge has never been violent. Superior court judge Diana R. Hall faces two felony counts and four misdemeanor charges stemming from a December incident that her lawyer called a deliberate "outing" by her vengeful former lover. Attorney Jack Earley told jurors that evidence would prove Hall never held a gun or abused her partner in any way. Deidra Dykeman, Hall's partner for four years, testified in a preliminary hearing in April that after she found Hall drunk at home, the judge pulled her hair, waved a gun at her, and attempted to block her from using a phone to call 911. Dykeman said Hall then drove away. Hall was arrested that night near the couple's home on suspicion of drunk driving.

Prosecutors say Hall tried to keep her same-sex relationship a secret in order to win reelection in the conservative north Santa Barbara County area where she worked. When Hall heard Dykeman calling 911, she "erupted like a volcano" because she knew she would be identified as a lesbian, Assistant District Attorney Kimberly Smith said Monday. Smith said the 911 tape would show Dykeman was being threatened with violence. "Picking up the phone to call 911 was the first mistake Deidra Dykeman made that could have cost her her life," Smith said.

Hall has been removed from her duties but is still on the court's payroll. State law mandates that if a judge is found guilty of a penalty, he or she must be first suspended, then removed from office after appeals are exhausted. The felony charges Hall faces include dissuading a crime victim from calling police and destruction of a telephone during an attempt to call 911. She faces misdemeanor counts of battery, brandishing a gun, driving under the influence, and driving with a blood alcohol count of .08.

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