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Panel considers
discipline against lesbian judge

Panel considers
discipline against lesbian judge

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)

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