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A small claims court judge will try to end a family feud between a Pleasanton judge — who’s also waging a battle to retain his gavel — and his daughter. The inheritance skirmish between Alameda County Superior Court Judge D. Ronald Hyde and his daughter Suzanne is a sideshow to the larger dispute that could the end Hyde’s 21-year judicial career. The Commission on Judicial Performance has accused Hyde, 59, of several misdeeds, including assigning his daughter’s small claims case to a Rotary Club buddy. That same daughter, Suzanne Hyde, is suing her father for allegedly withholding a $1,600 inheritance. The judge has countersued, arguing that he used the money to help repay an outstanding debt that Suzanne owed him. The CJP’s misconduct allegations against Hyde, who was disciplined once in 1996, will be aired at a March 24 hearing. The CJP could impose a range of discipline, from a public rebuke to removal from the bench. The small claims case “is a family matter that will not have an impact on the commission proceeding,” said James Murphy, a San Francisco lawyer who represents Hyde in the misconduct case. Judge Hyde did not return a call for comment. The younger Hyde — who says she is not on speaking terms with the judge — said the dispute revolves around money and two rings that she inherited from her grandmother, who died in March 2001. Judge Hyde was an executor of the estate. Suzanne Hyde said she filed suit Dec. 19 after learning that several family members got $1,600 checks and she did not. The judge’s daughter also said her father didn’t give her two of her grandmother’s rings, but she acknowledged that part of her inheritance wasn’t written in the will. In a Tri-Valley Herald story about a Jan. 23 hearing in Hyde v. Hyde, 2002071603, Suzanne Hyde said her father may have given the rings to his third wife. According to Suzanne Hyde and newspaper accounts of the hearing, the judge first intimated the rings might have been stolen, and then produced one of them in court and gave it to his daughter. Judge Hyde fired back with a suit Jan. 6 that contends his daughter owes him $1,900. According to his suit, Suzanne bought a 1996 Ford Explorer from the judge for $15,000 but then only paid him $12,000. He withheld her inheritance — which, in the suit, he valued at $1,100 — to help pay off the loan, he said. Suzanne Hyde says he owed $10,000 on the car when she bought it, and she assumed his loan. “I got my own loan and paid him an additional $2,000,” she said in an interview. “That was it.” “We talked about taking it out of her inheritance, but she flipped out,” Hyde said at the hearing, according to the Tri-Valley Herald. The public acrimony between the judge and his daughter is in stark contrast to the state misconduct probe, which alleges that the Pleasanton judge tried to give his child the upper hand when she sued a driver in small claims court after she was involved in a parking lot accident. According to the CJP, Hyde assigned his daughter’s 2001 case — which he filed on her behalf — to himself. Hyde didn’t reassign the case until the day it was scheduled to begin. And when he did, he passed it on to a pro tem who was in his Rotary Club. The pro tem, attorney John Harding, ruled in Suzanne Hyde’s favor, the commission’s complaint says. Judge Hyde’s attorney has argued that Harding doesn’t have business ties to the judge or his daughter. The case was assigned to the Pleasanton courthouse because the accident happened in that city, not because Judge Hyde works there, the response says. The CJP complaint points to a similar incident where Hyde allegedly helped the daughter of a lawyer who sits on the Pleasanton school board. Hyde ended Karissa Kernan’s probation for alcohol-related reckless driving so that she could join the military. Attorney Patrick Kernan, her father, is a friend of the Hyde family, the commission alleged. Hyde’s attorney has argued that Kernan is merely an acquaintance that the judge knows through community groups. Suzanne Hyde said that although she has a bad relationship with her father, she believes he is ethical on the bench. Suzanne Hyde said she had never met Harding before appearing at the court. “Yes, they are both in Rotary, but what does that mean?” she said. She added that she was “appalled” that her name turned up in newspaper stories about the misconduct probe. Hyde recalled that, in the past, her father has declined to discuss or do certain things because it would violate ethical rules. “I hate to say that,” Suzanne Hyde added, “because I don’t like that man.” Hyde said it was unlikely she would testify on behalf of her father for the commission hearing because he is suing her. Suzanne Hyde said she requested a change of venue after she filed suit against her father in Pleasanton; the case was assigned to retired Kings County Judge Carlos Baker Jr., who heard it at the Hayward Hall of Justice. Before her hearing began, Hyde said she asked Judge Baker if he knew her father. Baker said he did not. But Suzanne Hyde, who is still awaiting Baker’s ruling in Hyde, said she isn’t convinced her case got a fair hearing in Hayward because her father knows so many judges. “It’s still in Alameda County,” she said. “He’s been a judge for years. He knows everyone, or they have heard of him.”

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