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Ignoring appellate precedent is bad enough for a judge, but disregarding a ruling “laser-targeted” at your courtroom isn’t going to win you friends in higher places. San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Barbara Kronlund found that out Monday when Sacramento’s Third District Court of Appeal reversed and chastised her for not following the dictates of a ruling issued in May. “Judge Kronlund’s refusal to follow [that ruling], on the ground it was not final, was brave but foolish,” Justice Rick Sims wrote. “It was also legally wrong.” Justices George Nicholson and Vance Raye concurred. The three were irked that Kronlund, a juvenile court judge, kept refusing to acknowledge that attempts to disqualify her from some cases were timely. Her refusal directly defied an earlier ruling by the same panel of justices. In that May 2 opinion, Daniel V. v. Superior Court ( People), 139 Cal.App.4th 28 ( pdf.), Sims, Nicholson and Raye declared that Kronlund’s reasons for denying peremptory challenges aimed at her in two cases were faulty. But when faced with another peremptory challenge only 15 days later, Kronlund announced in open court that she wasn’t obligated to follow Daniel V., the justices noted in this week’s published opinion. “The decision isn’t final,” the justices quoted Kronlund as saying. “It appears we’re [ sic] going to be seeking petition [ sic] from the California Supreme Court.” Sims said Kronlund’s refusal to follow Daniel V. “provoked a flurry of new writ petitions in this court,” and constituted an abuse of discretion. “Except in extraordinary circumstances,” Sims wrote, “a trial judge should follow an opinion of the court of appeal that speaks to conditions or practices in the judge’s courtroom, even though the opinion is not final, until the opinion is depublished or review is granted. “There were no extraordinary circumstances here,” he continued. “ Daniel V. was laser-targeted at practices in Judge Kronlund’s department. It was not a close case.” Kronlund’s main reason for dismissing a disqualification attempt by Jonathon M., the minor in Monday’s case, was that it wasn’t timely because she had presided over other cases involving him. Under Code of Civil Procedure ��.6, disqualification motions can’t be made if a challenged judge has made rulings on the merits at an earlier hearing. The Third District ( pdf.) held Monday that didn’t apply to Jonathon M. because his current case was a new one that had originated in San Luis Obispo County. The court vacated Kronlund’s order and told her to accept the peremptory challenge. Then, it even took a jab at Kronlund’s misunderstanding of an opinion’s finality. “The stay of proceedings in the juvenile court is vacated upon finality of the opinion,” the court noted pointedly. “This opinion is ordered final forthwith.” Sims also noted in the ruling that even the attorney general’s office, which normally would defend the judge’s ruling, announced in a letter brief that it wouldn’t participate. Kronlund was attending a judicial conference on Monday and couldn’t be reached for comment. She was appointed to the San Joaquin bench in April 2005, after having served as a court commissioner for the previous 10 years. The full text of Jonathon M. v. Superior Court ( People), C052769, will appear in Wednesday’s California Daily Opinion Service.

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