Judge 'pantomimed something similar to a lap dance' on public defender's wife at outing, ethics complaint alleges

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A judge in Humboldt County, California, is facing an ethics complaint that accuses him of calling a public defender “Jewboy” and having “pantomimed something similar to a lap dance” on the wife of a different public defender. (Image from Shutterstock)

A judge in Humboldt County, California, is facing an ethics complaint that accuses him of calling a public defender “Jewboy” and having “pantomimed something similar to a lap dance” on the wife of a different public defender.

Judge Gregory J. Kreis of the Humboldt County Superior Court in California is accused in a Feb. 2 complaint by the California Commission on Judicial Performance, report Rolling Stone, the Daily Journal and KRCR. Kreis has been an elected judge since 2017.

Many of the allegations stem from a May 2019 event organized by the wife of a public defender at a campground and lake in Shasta County, California.

Before boarding a pontoon at the event, Kreis allegedly vaped marijuana and said he can’t believe that Deputy Public Defender Rory Kalin had not yet been fired.

On the boat, Kreis allegedly told Kalin that he looked Jewish and called him “Jewboy,” told Kalin’s wife that he didn’t know why she was married to “this Jewboy,” and later shoved Kalin into the water. Kalin was not wearing swim attire.

Also on the boat, Kreis allegedly “pantomimed something similar to a lap dance” on the wife of another public defender. At the same time, he “moaned or made other noises” that suggested that Kreis was having sex with her, the complaint alleges.

While on board a ski boat at the event, he wore a garment apparently intended to resemble a bikini top. The attire appeared to mock Kalin’s wife, who wore a yellow bikini top at the event, the ethics complaint says.

Kalin appeared before Kreis in several cases after the event without disclosure about what happened and without any disclosure that Kalin’s supervisor was a close personal friend, the ethics complaint says.

Kreis is also accused of:

  • Allegedly using cocaine from 2013 to 2017—before he became a judge.

  • Allegedly going into the bedroom where a close friend was sleeping during a party in 2015, pulling down his pants, and having his “penis out and near her face” as he tried to awaken her.

  • Allegedly grabbing or slapping the buttocks of a woman at a social gathering in 2018—and doing it again after the woman told him not to touch her.

  • Allegedly driving a group going on a tour of historic homes in 2019 while holding an alcoholic drink in one of his hands.

  • Allegedly complaining to the presiding judge in November 2020 that a court staffer was spreading rumors that he was having an affair with a family law facilitator. The court staffer was fired after an investigation. Kreis never disclosed that he was in fact having the affair, the ethic complaint says.

  • Allegedly failing to disclose his close friendships and relationships with lawyers and a litigant who appeared before him. Kreis had referred to one of the lawyers as his second wife. Another lawyer had represented Kreis in a lawsuit and collaborated with Kreis on a petition to oust a newly hired public defender. Kreis had been a finalist for the same job.

Kalin had previously sued Kreis and Shasta County, California, over his alleged behavior at the May 2019 outing, claiming assault, battery, civil rights violations and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The suit said Kalin had suffered a traumatic brain injury after being hit in the head with a golf ball the month before the event, according to the Daily Journal. Kalin suffered further distress after the incident because co-workers, influenced by Kreis, shunned him, according to the suit.

The case was tossed against the county, while an insurer for Kreis paid “a nominal settlement,” said Kreis’ lawyer, James A. Murphy, in an interview with the Daily Journal. The publication referred to Kreis as “Elvine-Kreis.”

Murphy said he thinks that the investigation of Kreis started as a result of the suit and a complaint by Kalin.

“We believe that the evidence will never support the claims made relative to Mr. Kalin,” Murphy said. “The witnesses to the incident do not support the claims that were advanced by Mr. Kalin.”

Kreis issued a statement on Instagram that was cited by KRCR and Rolling Stone. He expressed confidence that the disciplinary process will clear his name, and that the “allegations and outright lies will be dismissed.” He also questioned the timing of the ethics complaint.

“It’s not surprising that these salacious and false allegations, some of them over a decade old, are being made in a highly public way the same week ballots are out in a campaign for reelection,” he said.

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