State panel disciplines local Superior Court Judge Gary Kreep

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SAN DIEGO – The state Commission on Judicial Performance Thursday issued a severe public censure of San Diego Superior Court Judge Gary Kreep, the highest level of discipline the panel can impose short of removal from office.

The commission determined that Kreep engaged in 29 acts of judicial misconduct between 2012, when he took the bench, and 2015.

Those acts of misconduct, according to the commission, included:

— misconduct during his judicial campaign;

— making numerous comments in the courtroom reflecting a lack of courtroom decorum and an appearance of bias;

— acting out of hostility toward the San Diego City Attorney’s Office after it filed a “blanket” challenge against him;

— soliciting legal opinions from counsel not on a case in front of him; and

— telling an African-American court employee that she should not say she did not win a Halloween costume contest “due to racism,” or words to that effect.

In addition, the commission noted that Kreep’s conduct had a negative impact on the administration of the San Diego County Superior Court at a time when the court was dealing with a budgetary crisis.

The commission noted in its report that in general, Kreep admitted that he ran his courtroom too casually and that many of his comments could be perceived as improper and demonstrating a lack of decorum and bias.

However, Kreep failed to see the impropriety in many instances of misconduct, such as commenting on an attorney’s pregnancy and the physical attractiveness of female public defenders, sharing intimate personal facts about his caretaking of a friend, asking a prostitute whether she did it for the money or the action, calling an adult man “little boy,” unsuccessfully referencing a person’s ethnicity and speaking Spanish to litigants based on their surname, the commission’s report says.

The commission noted that there was a significant drop in incidents of misconduct after Kreep’s first year on the bench and after he was counseled by his supervising judges.