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San Jose, Calif.�Jurors who recently convicted a Santa Clara County judge on ticket-fixing charges made it clear that they don’t think the criminal justice system is perfect. One juror actually expected ticket-fixing to occur occasionally. “If he would have fixed a ticket or two along the way, no one would have noticed. No harm, no foul. But the pattern was there,” said jury foreman Dennis Deisenroth at the close of Superior Court Judge William Danser’s trial. But despite the jurors’ negative perceptions, no changes are expected to the county’s informal policy on case transfers. Nevertheless, some attorneys say that in the wake of Danser’s conviction, Santa Clara County judges should closely examine procedures for handling traffic tickets and transferring cases. Santa Clara County courts have a standing unwritten policy that cases should only be transferred for “good cause,” said Santa Clara Superior Court Presiding Judge Thomas Hansen. “We took an internal survey of traffic ticket transfers and found no unusual, inappropriate transfers took place,” Hansen said. “I heard statements that other courts have a more formal policy, but I have a suspicion that it’s not so.” Danser was convicted on April 30 of felony conspiracy and misdemeanor obstruction of justice for fixing 20 traffic tickets and transferring two drunken driving cases to himself. During the trial, prosecutors said many of those cases were unknowingly switched from other judges’ courts so Danser could help well-connected friends and impress professional athletes. Danser admitted to fixing tickets, but said it was a normal part of the judicial process. His attorney argued that Danser’s actions were acceptable in Santa Clara’s informal traffic court system. Attorneys say those admissions should lead judges to examine if the system is part of the problem. The main change many expect in courthouses is that judges may be exceedingly vigilant shepherding the smallest cases to avoid the perception that they are corrupt. “This is an isolated case, but judges are going to be much more careful about doing something that would raise eyebrows and give the appearance of impropriety,” said Kathleen “Cookie” Ridolfi, a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law. “My sense is that this isn’t something that happens very often, but maybe it should be brought to the attention of the presiding judges when there are excessive transfers of cases.” Ridolfi, who practiced criminal law in San Jose from 1991 to 2001, added that she “wouldn’t want to create another arm to police judges on this issue.” Judges will often transfer cases if a criminal defendant has separate matters pending before one or more courts because it is more efficient. Hansen recommended in March 2003 that a judicial rules committee examine case-transferring when one of the first Danser transfers was discovered in Los Gatos, Calif. The committee later concluded that a formal protocol for transfers was unnecessary and could be an impediment. Hansen said the issue will not be revisited, especially since recent news reports indicated there was not an unusual number of ticket transfers in Santa Clara County.

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