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After being bounced from a drug case, Alameda County Superior Court Judge D. Ronald Hyde called his bench colleague, Judge Hugh Walker, with a request. Hyde had set bail at $350,000 before defense counsel filed a peremptory challenge that got him booted from the case. He asked Walker to keep the bail where he had set it. In testimony Tuesday before a Commission on Judicial Performance panel, Walker said he was “royally ticked off” by the request. “I remember that because it was really out of character,” Walker said. “You just don’t do that.” The CJP is looking into allegations of judicial misconduct against Hyde, many of which center on whether he gave special treatment in court to people he knew. The commission is also probing whether Hyde broke other rules of judicial conduct. Hyde acknowledged he made some missteps, such as contacting Walker about the drug case after he was disqualified from hearing it. However, the judge and his attorneys have argued that his actions stem from the fact that he has handled cases for 20 years in a close-knit community, is involved in many civic activities and knows a lot of people. Procedures that are the norm in other courts are more relaxed at the Pleasanton courthouse, they have argued. Walker’s testimony referred to People v. Ariaza, 100837B, a drug case that Hyde heard in November 2001. Hyde set a $350,000 bail for Nicole Ariaza’s co-defendant — who was accused of possessing 300 grams of methamphetamine and loaded weapons — but learned that Ariaza had been freed earlier on $60,000 bail and was sitting in the courtroom. Hyde immediately raised her bail to $350,000, but Ariaza’s public defender attorney, Raymond Keller, surprised Hyde by later filing a peremptory challenge. Hyde testified Tuesday that shortly after the case was transferred to Walker, he told his clerk to get the judge on the phone. Judge Walker testified that while he was on the telephone with Hyde, Keller walked in and became angry that the two judges were talking about the case. Walker said he didn’t recall how Keller knew that Hyde was on the phone. Later that day, Walker, Hyde and another Pleasanton judge met in Hyde’s chambers, and Walker said he told Hyde that he was angry. “I left with no doubt that it would never happen again,” said the judge, who testified that he has known Hyde for more than two decades. Hyde appointed Walker in 1984 to be a court commissioner before Walker was appointed to the municipal court bench 10 years later. When Walker was pressed for more about the conversations regarding the Ariaza case, he said he couldn’t recall details. “It’s not a point in my career that I care to remember,” Walker said. Earlier, Hyde testified that he let Walker vent when the judge confronted him in chambers, and then apologized. “I looked at him and I told him that I was sorry,” Hyde said. This week, the panel of three judges is hearing testimony and weighing evidence. The findings will go to the CJP, which will decide what action — if any — to take against the judge. Earlier Tuesday, the daughter of a Pleasanton attorney testified that her father, Patrick Kernan, told her to call Hyde when she wanted to get her probation for a DUI conviction shortened so that she could enter the military. The commission alleges that Hyde was a friend of Patrick Kernan, and his daughter’s case received special treatment because of that tie. Hyde testified that he talked to Kernan’s daughter, Karissa, but did not discuss details of the case until she was in court. Hyde says he did not know Kernan’s daughter well. And two people testified Tuesday about a sexual anecdote that Hyde reportedly related to colleagues. Arthur Sims, court CEO, said he remembered the judge “saying the word ‘blow job.’ I thought it was kind of strange, kind of weird that he would say that.” Another court employee also remembered the incident, and testified, “I was very embarrassed,” adding that it was Sims’ first visit to the Pleasanton courthouse. An earlier witness’s testimony was cut short Tuesday when the special masters realized that she needed to hire a lawyer before proceeding. Denise Silva, a clerk who has worked at the court since 1979, was called to testify that Hyde asked her to pull a driver’s DMV records after the motorist cut him off on the road. When the clerk mentioned that she had signed a pledge not to misuse DMV records, one of the special masters ordered her to stop testifying. The judges told Silva that she could possibly be prosecuted for violating DMV rules if she got the information for Hyde. Both Hyde’s attorney and the commission’s lawyer, Jack Coyle, said they hadn’t considered that Silva needed a lawyer. “This is a lovely lady who had devoted her life to the courts,” said Sacramento Superior Court Judge Talmadge Jones, who is one of the special masters. “She should be protected and advised [of her Fifth Amendment] rights before she gives testimony,” he said. Silva is scheduled to return on Thursday after consulting with an attorney, and more attorneys and court staff are slated to testify this week. The hearing is expected to wrap up by Friday.

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