ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The lawyer for the state Commission on Judicial Conduct says the commission should recommend a public reprimand for a Bethel judge who jailed a witness to keep her sober for trial.
Matt Jamin, the commission's special counsel, said he considered Superior Court Judge Dale Curda a good judge. But Jamin said Curda's actions in September 1995 warrant a reprimand.
Curda's attorney, Jonathan Katcher, said that if the judge must be disciplined, it should be done in private.
The Commission on Judicial Conduct can dismiss the case, discipline the judge privately or recommend that the Alaska Supreme Court publicly reprimand him or remove him from the bench. Curda has been a Superior Court judge in Bethel since 1989.
The complaint stems from Curda's actions during the trial of Wilfred Raphael, accused of kidnapping and assaulting the woman he lived with.
During the case, the prosecutor told Curda without the defense attorney present that the woman was intoxicated and should be jailed until she testified, according to court documents. Curda jailed the woman and placed her children in protective custody.
The Supreme Court reversed Raphael's conviction in January, saying that Curda's decision to jail the woman without allowing her to contest his ruling tainted her testimony because she could have felt coerced.
Former Supreme Court Justice Edmond Burke told the commission earlier that he thought the Supreme Court's reversal was discipline enough for Curda. Other witnesses, including a law professor and the prosecutor in the Raphael case, testified during the three-day hearing in Anchorage.
Jamin said the judge was wrong when he discussed the case with the prosecutor outside the presence of Raphael's attorney, and when he jailed the woman and did so without allowing her a chance to contest his decision. Reversal of Raphael's conviction is not enough punishment, he said.
Peninsula Clarion ©2013. All Rights Reserved.