By Miriam Raftery
October 16,2016 (San Diego)—The state Commission on Judicial Performance has filed 11 counts of judicial misconduct against San Diego Superior Court Judge Gary G. Kreep, following a preliminary investigation. View the charges and notice of formal proceedings here.
Judge Kreep has 20 days from the date of service (October 7, 2016) to file a written response to the charges, which include conduct while serving as a judge as well as ethical violations during his campaign. California’s constitution provides remedies that could include removal from the bench, censure, public or private admonishment.
Count One covers actions during his campaign in 2012. They include biographical misrepresentations including falsely claiming he was currently president of the Family Values Coalition after the IRS revoked its nonprofit status and the organization was no longer on file with California’ s Secretary of State. He also claimed to be president of two conservative political action committees after he had resigned.
He also faces actions for political activities while running as a judge, which is prohibited by the Code of Judicial Ethics. That includes raising funds to defeat Barack Obama in his reelection bid and spearheading “birther” efforts to investigate Obama’s birth certificate.
In addition, he reportedly charged up 82% of his campaign expenses on a personal credit card instead of his campaign account and misrepresented to a client that he was still an attorney in private practice after his election to serve as judge. He also failed to report income from a political slate mailer.
Count Two accuses Judge Kreep of improper courtroom decorum. That includes remarks to a citizen of Mexican descent, “I love your accent”, then asking if she was a Mexican citizen. When told she was a proud U.S. citizen, he stated,”I wasn’t planning on having you deported.”
He also used nicknames for department attorneys and interns including “Bunhead”,”Dimples,” and “Shorty.” He commented on physical appearances of female public defenders and once suggested a public defender should hurry up because a pregnant deputy city attorney “wants to go home and have her baby.”
While discussing a prostitution case, he stated, “Speaking of prostitution, here’s Ms. Westfall,” referring to a deputy city attorney who entered the room. Additionally, he asked a woman charged with prostitution, “Is it you like the money? Or you just like the action?”
During open court in 2013, he told court staff and attorneys about his experience serving as caretaker for a disabled friend including showering with and sleeping in the same bed, but without sex, according to the charges.
He reportedly told a city attorney, “If you’re good during your hearing, I’ll give you cookies, little boy.” He also is accused of using crude language in proceedings, such as telling a deputy city attorney that if she was late he would “kick her in the butt” and telling a defense counsel his client was “no virgin” in the type of case. He also reportedly told the mother of a defendant whose case was dismissed to “slap him up the head a few times—make sure he stays off drugs.” He also used Spanish phrases such as “no cerveza, no tequila, no alcohol, nada, until your case is over.”
Count Three asserts that Kreep asked about surveillance video after his supervising judge counseled him not to undertake independent investigations involving ex parte civil temporary restraining orders.
County Four alleges he spoke with public defenders and interns about a blanket challenge filed against him by the city attorney’s office, warning a public defender that she should ”watch out, because if they’re coming for me they’re likely coming” for her as well. He also is alleged to have discussed pending public defender cases in improper ex-party communications.
County Five claims that while judging a costume contest at a courthouse Halloween party, he declined to present a money award to an African-American employee who won third place because he didn’t want her to say she “didn’t win due to racism.”
Count Six contends Judge Kreep did not conduct a trial on the date a trial was set, n or did he offer defendants an opportunity to conduct cross-examination or present testimony or evidence, giving the appearance that he had prejudged the case.
Count Seven alleges he used profanity in a racially insensitive remark during an unlawful detainer trial.
Count Eight states that Kreep sometimes asked waiting attorneys for their opinions on matters of law before Judge Kreep.
Count Nine says he acted improperly in presiding over a small claims trial in which a defendant did not appear; he gave the plaintiff the option of having the case dismissed, filing a civil case, or having him decide based on evidence presented.
County Ten suggests he cited his personal experience in real estate during a case over alleged flooring defects, adding, “I’ve been in enough lawsuits as an attorney, fortunately not as a party, to know that sometimes the truth gets left out when people are trying to cover their butts.”
Count Eleven says that Judge Kreep rescheduled an unlawful detainer case without notifying one of the parties, then presided over the hearing and granted a motion at which the party was not present, granting a motion for the other side.
Judge Kreep holds a law degree from the University of San Diego and undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego. He narrowly defeated Garland Peed in 2012 to win his judicial election.