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State Panel Removes LA County Judge

November 17, 2005

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ A state agency removed a judge from the bench Wednesday, concluding that he engaged in ``a shocking abuse of power″ that led to the wrongful conviction and two-day jail stay for a woman challenging a traffic infraction.

Superior Court Judge Kevin Ross was also cited for filming a pilot television series, called ``Mobile Court,″ in which a real small-claims case was heard in a Los Angeles strip club, with Ross presiding.

In 2003, Ross threw a woman in jail who was challenging a seat belt violation. The judge concluded she lied when she said she wasn’t the motorist who was pulled over.

Ross never read the new charge to the woman, never informed her of her right to an attorney or right to challenge the case, according to the Commission on Judicial Performance, a state judicial watchdog agency.

Once officials learned of the woman’s plight, another judge released her and dismissed the case.

The commission concluded Ross illegally assumed ``the function of the prosecutor to add additional charges.″ The panel said Ross tried to cover up the 2003 jailing during hearings before the commission.

Ross, who first won election to the bench in 1999, said in a statement he was unsure whether he would appeal the commission’s decision to the state Supreme Court.

``As I have previously indicated, I accept complete responsibility for those specific actions that did not exemplify the highest standards of judicial excellence,″ Ross said.

The commission said he violated judicial ethics by getting paid $5,000 in 2002 for a TV pilot that was never picked up for syndication.

In a case for the show that Ross heard in the strip club, a stripper claimed that she had been wrongly disqualified from the ``Miss Wet on the Net″ contest.

Judicial codes prohibit sitting judges from getting paid for acting as a private arbitrator, the commission concluded.

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