Judge is admonished after joining Facebook group calling for recall of reform-minded DA

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A Los Angeles County judge has been publicly admonished after joining a Facebook group calling for the recall of the progressive district attorney whose office prosecuted cases before him.

The Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished Judge Michael J. O’Gara on Sept. 14, according to a press release.

The Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and have coverage.

O’Gara was admonished for his activity in the Facebook group and for tweets and retweets that, in the commission’s view, suggested bias against particular groups of people.

In a Facebook group post, O’Gara criticized newly elected Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón for failing to seek sentencing enhancements, according to the admonishment. O’Gara also liked and engaged with posts by group members, although he later removed his comments.

“I don’t know about the rest of you, but every election I am guilty of not paying attention to the judges running,” O’Gara wrote in one since-deleted response. “Now, I definitely will, especially after Gascón’s own staff is talking about ‘flipping the bench’ etc. Some of the judges are fighting Gascón’s directives and we need them to stay. They are heroes.”

O’Gara also liked this comment: “Please let me know what I can do to help with [an opponent’s] run. I work in court. The morale is extremely low.”

The public admonishments said the Facebook group had more than 16,000 members and O’Gara was an active participant, giving the appearance that he endorsed the group’s goals and activity. “Judge O’Gara posted remarks expressing a partisan viewpoint, and ‘liked’ other users’ comments expressing similarly partisan viewpoints,” the commission said.

Gascón was sworn into office in December 2020. O’Gara joined the Facebook group three days later, then removed himself from the group the same month. Gascón had pledged to reduce prison terms, end cash bail and stop death penalty prosecutions.

On Twitter, O’Gara made negative comments in response to tweets supporting Democrats and posted tweets that suggested partisan views on issues such as gun control and Black Lives Matter, the admonishment said.

“There’s 3.2 mil AR15s in the US per & about 12 attacks using them,” O’Gara tweeted. “Why punish other 3,199,988?”

O’Gara also liked tweets appearing to reflect strong political points of view, that appeared to convey bias against victims of sexual assault and disdain for women, that appeared to oppose immigrants, that appeared to support capital punishment, and that seemed critical of those exercising their First Amendment rights to protest, the admonishment said.

The commission cited three liked tweets as conveying bias against victims of sexual assault and disdain and disrespect for women.

One liked tweet read, “FreeLouieCK,” an apparent reference to the comedian accused of sexual misconduct by five women.

The second liked tweet was a response to a comment by a political consultant who said she has never seen a Supreme Court nominee make a partisan attack, an apparent reference to Brett M. Kavanaugh’s emotional statements during his confirmation hearing.

The response that O’Gara liked read, “How many nominations have you handled where the nominee was expected to remain calm when asked about the rape gangs he didn’t organize?”

The third liked tweet described Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as a “nitwit” and “moron”

The tweets on immigration that O’Gara liked were by President Donald Trump.

O’Gara also liked a tweet that read, “I don’t approve of storming the Capitol but isn’t it a fact that if BLM or Antifa did it, the media would be in raptures about the passionate demonstration of commitment to racial justice?”

O’Gara later deleted his Twitter app and deactivated his account.

O’Gara expressed contrition for his social media activity and accepted that his actions were inappropriate. But he said he never intended it to be viewed as an endorsement of specific partisan positions or controversial viewpoints.

Six commission members voted for a public admonishment while four voted for a private admonishment.

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