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William Danser, who resigned from the Santa Clara County bench two years ago after being convicted of fixing traffic tickets, isn’t going down without a fight. But on his way he continues, as he did at trial, to blame others for his woes. On Tuesday, while Danser and his wife watched, attorney Arthur Dudley tried to persuade a three-justice panel of San Francisco’s First District Court of Appeal to reverse the ex-judge’s conviction, saying he “reasonably and in good faith” believed law enforcement officers had consented to him dismissing between 20 and 30 citations from 1997 to 2002. Dudley, a solo practitioner from Santa Cruz, argued that retired Judge William Kelsay, who presided over Danser’s trial, had erred by failing to instruct jurors on that defense. He also said there wasn’t enough evidence to charge Danser with conspiring to obstruct justice. Danser, 52, was convicted in May 2004 of felony conspiracy and misdemeanor obstruction of justice for dismissing traffic citations or meting out light punishment for several acquaintances, as well as players and executives of the National Hockey League’s San Jose Sharks, while sitting on the Santa Clara County Superior Court. The longtime Sharks season-ticket holder even dismissed two tickets issued against his own car. In July 2004, Danser agreed to step off the bench and accept a public censure from the Commission on Judicial Performance. A few days later, Judge Kelsay sentenced the disgraced former judge to 90 days’ house arrest, three years’ probation and 400 hours of community service. He also was ordered to pay about $3,000 in fines. In September of that year, the State Bar Court placed Danser on interim suspension. But if his conviction is upheld, summary disbarment would be sought immediately, Donald Steedman, the State Bar’s supervising trial counsel, said Tuesday. Based on Tuesday’s appellate arguments, Danser’s chances of escaping that fate seem slim. All three justices sounded skeptical, sharply challenging the contention that Danser’s allegedly misplaced faith in officers’ consents to his actions entitled him to “a defense of mistake of fact.” Justices Maria Rivera and Ignazio Ruvolo appeared particularly put off by Danser’s penchant for asking officers � especially Los Gatos Police Detective Randall Bishop, who pleaded no contest to conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges � to investigate certain citations to see whether they should be dismissed. “That’s not the judge’s role in our system. They don’t call officers in to investigate tickets,” Rivera said. “Isn’t that something that could be described as obstruction of justice?” Dudley responded by saying there was nothing wrong with that if there was no criminal intent and if the request was made to the officer who issued a ticket. “But,” Justice Ruvolo interjected, “the fact that this inquiry comes from a judge, to me, taints the consent.” After the hearing, Dudley said it was clear from testimony at trial that Danser honestly felt he had gotten consent from officers before dismissing citations. “And that instruction was never given [to jurors],” Dudley said. “And that’s what the jury needed.” Judge Kelsay, he said, “sort of fell down on the job.” Dudley also said appellate justices can’t and shouldn’t step into the jurors’ shoes and question whether they believe Danser’s claim that he was acting in good faith. “They’re not there to become 13th jurors,” he said. Justice Patricia Sepulveda was the third justice on the First District panel. The state was represented by San Francisco Deputy Attorney General Bridget Billeter. Danser and his wife slipped away quietly immediately following the hearing. The case is People v. Danser, A107853.

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