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SACRAMENTO � A surly judge who belittled attorneys and litigants has been censured and barred from future work on the bench by the Commission on Judicial Performance. Orange County Superior Court Judge Susanne Shaw, who retired on Sept. 30, “made remarks reflecting a lack of patience, dignity and courtesy, constituting prejudicial misconduct,” in 42 documented instances over two years, the CJP concluded in a decision made public Thursday. In one 2004 criminal case, Shaw interrupted a prosecutor who had asked a witness to demonstrate on a photograph where he had sustained a head injury. “I mean, it speaks for itself, doesn’t it? That red stuff isn’t ketchup,” Shaw said, according to a transcript. “Really, come on. These jurors are not that idiotic.” In a decision overturning the defendant’s assault conviction in that case, the Fourth District Court of Appeal blasted Shaw for “persistent and indefensible conduct” that “substantively undermined the defense theory of the case.” In deciding Shaw’s punishment, the CJP noted it had previously chastised the judge three times for improper conduct, including a 1988 preliminary hearing where she drew a picture of a hanged man and had her bailiff hand it to an investigating officer during the proceedings. Shaw signed an affidavit admitting the charges against her were true as part of an agreement with the CJP waiving further hearings and a Supreme Court review. “Judge Shaw’s persistent mistreatment of those who appear before her, and her inability to control her behavior despite repeated admonishments from the commission and the Court of Appeal convinces us of the high probability she will continue her unethical behavior if she were to sit in a judicial capacity in the future,” the commission wrote. Censure and a bench-assignment ban are the toughest punishments the CJP can levy against retired judges. When she retired, Shaw was replaced by Judge James Rogan, the former Republican congressman who gained fame as a leader in President Clinton’s impeachment trial.

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