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In a final plea to save his job, Pleasanton Judge D. Ronald Hyde apologized for abusing his post and reminded a state watchdog group that he’s devoted his life to community service. “One of the things that I realized early in my career is that I can make a difference in people’s lives,” Hyde told the Commission on Judicial Performance on Wednesday. “My life, if you look at my resume, has been dedicated to my community and being a judge in my community.” The 60-year-old Alameda County jurist addressed the commission for 20 minutes, inadvertently taking all of his attorney’s speaking time. The 11-member commission will decide what punishment Hyde should receive for seven counts of misconduct, possibly including removal from the bench. It was clear Wednesday that the most damning accusation against Hyde is that he asked another judge to “back up” a ruling after Hyde had been bounced from a case. It was the first accusation that Hyde spoke about, and the judge profusely apologized for it. “It was stupid,” Hyde said. “It was done in anger. I have learned from that mistake.” In June, a three-judge panel found that Hyde had committed willful misconduct, clearing the way for his possible removal. The panel also found that Hyde, 1982 appointee of Gov. Jerry Brown, had told a clerk to look up the DMV records of a motorist who had cut him off and picked a Rotary Club buddy to preside over his daughter’s small claims court case, among other things. At Wednesday’s hearing, commission attorney Jack Coyle said Hyde committed brazen misconduct even after he’d been publicly censured in 1996, privately admonished in 1997, and chided in advisory letters. “It is fair to say that Judge Hyde has not benefited from discipline,” Coyle said, noting that in 1996 the commission had considered removing Hyde from the bench. “It’s not just more misconduct, it is the same misconduct,” Coyle said. “He does not take prior discipline seriously. He does not take these proceedings seriously.” That seemed to weigh on Commissioner Marshall Grossman, a name partner with Santa Monica’s Alschuler Grossman Stein & Kahan. “Do you believe that any discipline is warranted, and if so what should the discipline be in light of � prior discipline?” the attorney asked Hyde. “The decision about the discipline I leave to the commission,” Hyde said, later adding “I have not done anything to willfully disobey that prior censure or discipline.” Another commissioner, Third District Court of Appeal Justice Vance Raye, asked Hyde if he stood by his attorneys’ briefs. During the March hearing, Hyde recanted many initial explanations that James Murphy and Harlan Watkins of San Francisco’s Murphy, Pearson, Bradley & Feeney had made about his conduct. “I can’t answer that,” Hyde said. Hyde plans to retire at the end of October, and it’s unclear if the commission will punish the Pleasanton judge before his last day on the bench. If Hyde retires before the commission acts, at most he would be barred from sitting as a substitute judge. There is no deadline for the commission to rule, but it typically makes a decision within 90 days after attorneys make final arguments, said Commission Director Victoria Henley. After the hearing, Murphy said he did not think that the commission would rule before November. However, Hyde said, post-retirement removal would deeply affect him. “You don’t think that I would work to be ‘community hero,’” Hyde said referring to one of his local honors, “to have this on my record?” If Hyde is defrocked before he retires, he would be the second East Bay judge booted from office this year. Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Bruce Van Voorhis was removed from the bench in February for demeaning court staff, attorneys and jurors. Murphy, who also represents Van Voorhis, has asked the California Supreme Court to review that case.

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