Judicial Commission Recommends Removal of Judge Lopez-Alexander
DENVER (AP) _ The county Judicial Qualifications Commission has recommended the removal of a judge accused of making racial slurs and improperly jailing lawyers for contempt of court.
The recommendation was delivered Monday to Judge Larry Lopez-Alexander and Mayor Federico Pena.
Lopez-Alexander, who was named to the bench in 1979 and once described himself in open court as a ″hanging judge,″ left his courtroom immediately and was not available for comment.
A secretary in Pena’s office said the mayor had not looked at the ″voluminous″ recommendation and that he had five days in which to act.
Chief County Judge Edward Simons declined to discuss the recommendation.
″I think the ruling speaks for itself. Beyond that I cannot comment,″ Simons said.
The recommendation is the result of an eight-day hearing earlier this year on accusations that the judge improperly jailed lawyers for contempt of court, lost his temper on the bench, let his born-again Christian beliefs control judicial decisions, claimed special ″psychic″ insight, made racial slurs, rudely berated defendants in his courtroom and was too hard on people he suspected of having alcohol problems.
″The conclusion is inescapable that the judge has habitually violated most of the standards of judicial conduct ... over a period of several years,″ the report said.
It said Lopez-Alexander’s actions on the bench had a ″chilling effect″ on defendants and promoted an ″atmosphere of coercion and intimidation.″
Last Friday, Lopez-Alexander told reporters that if he is ordered off the bench, he might move to Boise, Idaho, where his parents live. He also said he might become a college professor or join the insurance industry, which he said shares some of his own worries about alcoholism and drunken driving.
And the judge said politics is ″always a possibility.″
″This whole thing was a tremendous misunderstanding. My motives were completely misunderstood in many of the things I was doing,″ he said.