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A Santa Clara Superior Court judge accused of possible ethical violations for trying to order the dismissal of two parking tickets is now under fire for his handling of a drunken driving case. Judge William Danser defended his decision to transfer a DUI case to his courtroom and said he gave the defendant the same sentence he always gives first offenders. “I think the DA is kind of blowing smoke,” Danser said Monday. The court’s presiding judge, Thomas Hansen, said Monday that he is “looking into” both accusations. “I am aware of the allegations,” he said. “They are very serious, and I am taking them seriously.” He declined to speculate about any action he could take, noting that Danser is an elected official. District Attorney George Kennedy said his office had questioned Danser’s handling of the DUI in October. “One of our deputies noticed the case was in a funny place,” Kennedy said. “He looked into the matter and determined the sentence was lawful and there was no legal violation, and we dropped it.” Prosecutors said the DUI defendant, Anne Keane, was arrested for driving under the influence in Los Altos. Criminal matters in Los Altos are typically handled in the Palo Alto courthouse, which has a satellite prosecutor’s office. However, Danser, who was handling criminal law and motion matters at the time, transferred Keane’s case to his San Jose courtroom and took her plea. Danser said he told Deputy DA Tracy Gilliam, who was in the courtroom on another matter, to stand in for the prosecution. Keane was sentenced to a 90-day suspended license. Prosecutors say first-time drunken drivers typically are sentenced to six days, or three weekends, with the county’s work furlough program. “I get cases sent to me from every court in the county on a regular basis. No one has told me not to handle a case from another courthouse,” Danser said. “I am sure someone asked me to set it. I get asked to set cases weekly,” Danser said. “I always know I give the same speech. If they are not going to plead guilty, I don’t want to see it.” The judge said he doesn’t remember who asked him to calendar the case, but said he was familiar with Randy Bishop, a Los Gatos police detective who accompanied Keane to the sentencing. “He might have [asked]. I can’t say he did or I can’t say he didn’t,” Danser said. Danser said he did not know Keane, but was familiar with her attorney, Michael Horner, who practices in San Jose. Horner did not return phone calls Monday. Danser said he and Bishop “have worked on a number of cases in terms of writing search warrants out in Los Gatos. He does a lot of child porn stuff. If he needed something on the weekend or a warrant to get signed, he would come by my house.” Bishop refused to comment on the case saying, “It wasn’t a Los Gatos case. This has been a non-issue. Our department is not looking into anything.” Los Gatos Police Capt. Duino Giordano confirmed that the department was not investigating the matter. “I don’t see what the problem is. We are asked to do favors all the time,” said Giordano, saying that members of the public routinely ask officers for help with everything from navigating through the DMV to driving by and checking on their house while they are on vacation. “The judge has a right to hear a case as long as he doesn’t have prejudice or use undue influence,” Giordano said. Danser said the sentence he imposed was exactly what he has sentenced in other DUI cases. “If you look at the sentences I impose, it’s the same sentence I give every first-time offender case,” he said, noting that defendants have to pay more than $1,200 in fines. “I am tougher than most judges on the second time around. You are going to do anywhere from 30 to 90 days in jail.” Danser also said there was nothing improper about asking Gilliam to handle the case cold. “She has been a DA long enough with enough experience to handle it without a whole lot of preparation,” Danser said. He said judges take pleas in DUI cases all the time without prosecutors present. “On misdemeanors, the DA never sends anyone over to handle these cases. DAs never appear. There is nothing different about this case.” On Friday, Danser acknowledged that he had improperly used court stationery in an attempt to order the dismissal of two Los Gatos parking tickets worth $90. He said he reported his conduct to the Commission on Judicial Performance, which investigates and disciplines judicial misconduct.

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