According to the Metropolitan News-Enterprise, a legal newspaper, the California Commission on Judicial Performance ruled that Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Alan H. Friedenthal engaged in misconduct that “included making discourteous, undignified, gratuitous and denigrating remarks to litigants, attorneys and related parties, and attempting to engage in humor at the expense of litigants; engaging in conduct that reflected embroilment [being personally embroiled in cases] and conveyed the appearance of bias; engaging in improper ex parte communications; and failing to disclose on the record information that was reasonably relevant to the question of disqualification.” According to the same paper, Friedenthal now deals with non-family law cases.
Friedenthal complained on the record in court about someone who had filed a complaint against him, stating he wanted to sue her for defamation.
Metropolitcan News-Enterprise story here.
According to the LA Times,
Friedenthal presided over a 2008 case involving two teenage parents and their child. The teenage woman’s mother made comments about Friedenthal on an online forum concerning court matters and on a MySpace page, according to the decision.
While presiding over the case, Friedenthal improperly reviewed the posts, the commission determined.
Under the California Code of Judicial Ethics, “judges are supposed to decide cases based on the facts before them,” said Victoria B. Henley, director and counsel for the commission. “Independent investigative information outside the records is a form of ex-parte communication and is improper.” In a written objection to his admonishment, Friedenthal stated he believed he could monitor online postings by litigants to determine if he or his family was threatened, according to the decision.
LA Times story here.
Clearly, the California Commission did not buy his justification.
The commission voted 9-1 in favor of public admonishment.