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SAN JOSE — Former Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge William Danser avoided prison Monday when he was sentenced to 90 days under house arrest after fixing tickets for athletes and acquaintances. Calling the case a clear-cut example of corruption, Judge William Kelsay also sentenced Danser to three years’ probation and 400 hours of community service. Danser was ordered to pay close to $3,000 in fines and will have to wear an electronic monitor. “This is not the worst case of corruption one could see in the justice system,” Kelsay said, although he added, “I think it’s a felony.” Kelsay, a retired Santa Cruz judge, said he was “mystified” by Danser’s conduct and that it was the most difficult sentence he had ever handed down because the defendants were a judge and a police officer. He also said he was cognizant of the “other victims” in the case — in particular, Danser’s family and children. Danser, who faced as much as three years in prison, was whisked out of the courtroom with his wife by his side after he was sentenced. Asked for a comment, Danser said he was going to celebrate his wife’s birthday, which was Monday. Pressed again, Danser said, “That’s why I hired an attorney.” Danser was convicted in April of one count of felony conspiracy and eight counts of misdemeanor obstruction of justice for fixing traffic tickets and transferring two drunken driving cases to his court. Prosecutors have said that he was trying to help friends and professional athletes — including members of the San Jose Sharks hockey team. Danser’s attorney, Kenneth Robinson of San Jose, asked Kelsay to be lenient, saying that Danser’s crimes should not mar a dedicated public service career. Robinson said it would be best to sentence Danser for a misdemeanor and allow him to continue his law career and support his family. He said Danser also had to pay about $130,000 in legal fees. “This man has led an exemplary life,” Robinson said. “He made one serious mistake. Did he do this for money? No. Did he do this for financial gain? No.” Rather, Robinson said, Danser fixed tickets because he wanted to be known as a “big man” in the community. “The big man is no longer a big man,” Robinson said with Danser at his side. “Although he’s still big in stature, he’s no longer a �big man.’” But Deputy District Attorney David Pandori said Danser and his co-conspirator, former Los Gatos Police Det. Randall Bishop, deserved tough treatment because they only stopped their criminal behavior when the public found out. He said the pair dispensed two types of justice: “one for friends and athletes and one for everyone else.” Pandori said that in 2000 Danser even wrote the name of an attorney on a ticket he dismissed so it would seem more legitimate. “These men should be punished because no one is above the law,” Pandori said, adding that the defense was asking for a “slap on the wrist.” “They just kept going — the only thing that stopped them was the grand jury,” Pandori said, adding that Danser’s attitude was that, “I’m not just above the law, I should be beyond punishment.” Bishop received an identical sentence Monday after pleading guilty before trial. It was not clear where Bishop will serve his jail term since he now lives in Vancouver, B.C. Robinson said after the hearing that he was disappointed in the sentence and reiterated Danser’s contention during trial that Bishop duped him into fixing many tickets. Robinson also said Danser would appeal, although he did not specify on what grounds. He said he would refer Danser to an appellate lawyer. Danser was stripped of his judicial post last week by the Commission on Judicial Performance. The former judge was scheduled for three to five weeks of hearings on ethics charges, but the settlement eliminated the need for a hearing. Felony convictions that the State Bar views as involving “moral turpitude” may result in automatic disbarment. Attorneys may apply for reinstatement after five years.

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