SACRAMENTO Alameda County Superior Court Judge Paul Seeman, facing criminal charges that he fleeced an elderly neighbor, announced his resignation from the bench Thursday.
Seeman quit and promised never to seek judicial office again as part of a deal with the Commission on Judicial Performance. In exchange, the disciplinary panel agreed to defer its preliminary investigation of the judge's actions until his criminal case is resolved.
"Judge Seeman has had a distinguished career, and he felt this was an appropriate action to take at this time for the good of the court," said Seeman's attorney, Kathleen Ewins of Long & Levit in San Francisco.
Seeman was arrested last year on suspicion of bilking his neighbor, Ann Nutting, of more than $200,000. According to prosecutors, Seeman befriended Nutting more than a decade ago and in 1999 obtained a power of attorney after claiming he found $1 million worth of stock certificates and uncashed checks in the woman's home.
The district attorney's office said Seeman sold some of Nutting's possessions and persuaded his neighbor in 2004 to loan him $250,000 from the proceeds. Seeman made only eight payments on the loan, prosecutors said.
In 2007 Nutting retained an attorney who eventually reported his concerns about Seeman to the Berkeley police. Nutting died in 2010.
In June 2012 Seeman was arrested in his courtroom chambers at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in Oakland. He is facing 30 felony counts of theft from an elder, offering a false or forged instrument and perjury as well as two misdemeanor counts of unauthorized disclosure of information from the Department of Motor Vehicles, according to an amended complaint filed by the district attorney on March 1.
Court spokesman Adam Byer said Seeman has not performed "any court function" since his arrest last year. He continued to receive his judicial salary, however, in accordance with CJP rules that protect pay for bench officers until they are convicted.
Seeman, appointed to the bench in 2009 by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, is due back in court April 18 for a pretrial hearing.