A superior court
judge told a disciplinary panel in Ventura,
Calif., that she regretted driving while drunk and did
not disclose the source of a campaign loan because it
would have raised questions about her sexual
orientation. The $20,000 loan came from Judge Diana R.
Hall's then-domestic partner, Deidra Dykeman.
"Northern Santa Barbara County is very
conservative," Hall said Monday in testimony before a
three-judge panel in Ventura. "I knew that this
[disclosure] would make my job more difficult.... Everyone
knew me as a straight person."
Hall also said she mistakenly thought that
financial disclosure laws did not apply to people who
were living together. She said she and Dykeman had
bought a home together and were used to pooling their money.
"It was my belief that it was our money and that we
hadn't done anything illegal," said Hall, who hears
cases in Santa Maria.
The panel is looking into Hall's alleged
misreporting of the campaign contribution, her August
2003 misdemeanor conviction for drunken driving, and
her alleged misconduct in June 2001 after a prosecutor
disqualified her from hearing a case.
Hall said the drunk-driving incident--in
which she left her Santa Ynez Valley home with a
blood-alcohol level of 0.18%, more than twice the
legal limit--followed an angry confrontation with
Dykeman. She denied improperly asking the prosecutor
why he sought to disqualify her in a domestic violence case.
The three-judge panel will recommend action in
early 2006 that could include punishment ranging from
admonition to removal from the bench. The California
Commission on Judicial Performance will make a final
decision, which Hall can appeal to the state supreme
court. Hall continues to hear some civil cases and
draw her $140,000 annual salary. A judge since 1990,
she is up for reelection in 2008. (AP)