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SACRAMENTO � A Los Angeles judge who “belittled” an attorney and issued “unwarranted” orders to show cause was publicly admonished ( .pdf) by the Commission on Judicial Performance Wednesday. Superior Court Judge Ronald Sohigian routinely issued OSCs to plaintiffs for failing to appear at the initial status conference in civil cases even when they were not legally required to be there, the commission found. Sohigian would also repeatedly delay hearings on OSCs so he could “wait until further developments had occurred in the case to see whether he wanted to issue sanctions,” according to the commission report. Sohigian told the commission he regrets using the OSCs as a case management tool and no longer issues the order forms he was using. But he also asked commissioners to suspend its review of the case against him while he asked the Judicial Council what precisely an OSC form should contain. Sohigian said he found OSC forms similar to the ones he used in courts around California. Commissioners refused his request. “The misconduct in that practice was not the accidental byproduct of a poorly drafted form,” the commission said. “The misconduct was Judge Sohigian’s determination to issue OSCs for the improper purpose of compelling innocent parties and counsel to provide testimony under threat of sanctions.” The commission also concluded that Sohigian was rude and sarcastic to an attorney in an April 2006 case involving a firm seeking fees from past clients. In one exchange, the attorney said he didn’t have a document Sohigian requested. Then he asked to check a box to see if he could find it. “Before you said you didn’t have it so there would be no reason to look for it,” Sohigian said. “For example, if someone were to ask me to look for a $10,000 bill in my pocket, I wouldn’t say, just a second. I’ll look for it. I pretty much would know.” Six commissioners voted for public admonishment while two said Sohigian should have received private discipline. In 1991, the commission issued the judge an advisory letter for abusing his authority in sanctioning attorneys.

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