A state judicial panel claimed that there was extensive testimony against California Appeals Court Justice Jeffrey Johnson that showed him to have sexually harassed multiple women at the courthouse. In particular, he harassed a female colleague who he repeatedly propositioned and groped since 2010.
The findings could lead to Johnson’s removal from the Los Angeles Second District Court of Appeal if upheld by the Commission on Judicial Performance.
Johnson found to be ethically wrong
The fact finding panel stated that Justice Johnson’s conduct towards women reflected ethical lapses which undermine the trust placed by the public in the judicial process.
The panel comprised of an appellate justice and two Superior Court judges clearly stated that Johnson had wronged 11 women from 2009 to 2018 by committing acts of “prejudicial misconduct”. Also, he was drunk while presiding over a reception and a wedding for young attorneys.
Johnson vehemently denies the claims
The report followed hearings spanning over 17 days with 100 witnesses. Johnson’s case will be heard by the commissioner on March 18th.
Johnson denies groping, harassing, or propositioning any court employees or colleagues. He even noted that Justice Victoria Chaney, who is the chief-accuser, personally recommended him for a state Supreme Court seat to then-Gov. Jerry Brown.
His attorney, Paul S. Meyer, said that there were many credibility problems in testimonies of accusing witnesses which deserved further analysis.
Chaney claims that Johnson repeatedly touched and groped her
Johnson and Chaney were both appointed to the court by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2009. Chaney testified that Johnson first spoke about having an affair with her in 2010 when she turned him down.
A few months later, he sympathized with her after she had gone through a difficult hearing. He said he wanted to kiss her and squeeze her breasts to get her to cheer up. He then touched one of her breasts and hugged her.
Similar “full body” hugs were given by Johnson to Chaney over the years wherein he patted her buttocks as well. Chaney claimed the she did not invite the contact but never asked him to stop because she was afraid.
Credibility questions arise on Chaney’s letter
The panel said they found Chaney’s 2014 letter to Brown endorsing Johnson for a promotion most perplexing. The letter described Johnson as hardworking and intelligent while noting his outreach to local schools. Chaney testified that she had mixed feelings about the harassment since Johnson was a great colleague.
Get in touch with a California sexual harassment attorney
Makarem & Associates is a pre-eminent California law firm dealing with sexual harassment cases on behalf of the victims. If you have been a victim sexual harassment or abuse at the workplace, call Makarem & Associates at 310-312-0299 or email at [email protected] for legal advice.