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California judicial watchdog berates LA judge for biased social media posts

A judicial watch group publicly reprimanded a Los Angeles judge on Tuesday for showing bias in posts on Facebook and Twitter.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael J. O’Gara, a former elected judicial attorney, received the reprimand for joining a Facebook effort to recall Dist. Atty. George Gascón and liking tweets that criticized Black Lives Matter, a march of women and immigrants.

“Judge O’Gara’s social media activity has given the appearance of bias,” said the State Commission on Judicial Performance. “He posted outrageous and indecent remarks in response to public figures and appeared to espouse partisan and controversial views. “

Of the five possible disciplinary actions the commission can take, a public reprimand is the third most severe.

Three days after Gascón’s election, O’Gara joined the Recall-Gascón Facebook group and added members of his family, the commission said. “Some judges are fighting the Gascon [sic] directives and we need them to stay, ”he said in a post he later deleted. “They are heroes. “

On Twitter, O’Gara responded to a message from UCLA objecting that his stadium had been used as a field prison during the Black Lives Matter protests.

“I’m sure your position would change if they just devastated the student store or the medical center,” O’Gara wrote. “But of course, local business, burn them down. “

Another tweet criticized gun control, and he liked a tweet that the commission said “suggested bias against people of Chinese descent” and one that indicated support for the death penalty.

O’Gara told the commission that he did not intend his social media posts to be endorsements from any particular point of view and had deactivated his Twitter account.

But the commission said judges should not question their ability to act impartially or make statements suggesting they are aligned with a party in a controversy.

The disciplinary measures imposed by the commission, from the most lenient to the most punitive, are: a private advisory letter, a private warning, a public warning, public censorship and impeachment.