DA files two felonies against Hall – Melville

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DA files two felonies against Hall By Brenda Poe — Staff Writer 1/10/03 Two felony and four misdemeanor charges were filed in Santa Barbara County Superior Court in Santa Maria Friday morning against Judge Diana Hall, in connection with Hall’s arrest on Dec. 21 for allegedly driving under the influence. The District Attorney’s Office filed the charges and is notifying Hall by mail to appear in court at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 23. Assistant District Attorney Christie Stanley could not be reached for comment Friday morning. Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s deputies pulled Hall over at gunpoint near her home and arrested her on suspicion of drunken driving after she failed a field-sobriety test. Results from a blood test, released last week, revealed Hall’s blood-alcohol level was .18 — twice the legal limit. Investigation by deputies showed that Hall and her roommate, Deidra Ann Dykeman, allegedly had a domestic dispute, according to Sgt. Phil Willis in earlier statements. At some point during the dispute, investigators say Hall brandished a handgun, then placed it on her bed and drove away from the home. Deputies responded to the domestic dispute and spotted Hall’s vehicle. Count 1 of the charges involves using force or violence to dissuade or prevent a witness or victim of a crime from making a report, with special allegations for use of a firearm — a felony. According to authorities, Hall could face a maximum of four years in prison if convicted. Count 2 of the charges is for destruction of a telephone, which is also a felony. If convicted on the charge, she could face an additional three years. The remaining charges are misdemeanors with a maximum penalty of one year or less in the county jail if convicted. The charges are brandishing a weapon, battery on spouse or cohabitant; driving while under the influence of alcohol; and driving with .08 percent or more by weight of alcohol in the blood. “I have not been privy to police reports up to this point, because the DA’s office isn’t required to release them until charges have been filed,” said Hall’s attorney, William K. Gamble. “I am going to request them and proceed from there.” Hall is expected to make a plea at the arraignment. Hall is also headed to court on Jan. 27, where a judge will decide whether she will be barred from moving back into her Santa Ynez home and ordered to stay away from Dykeman and her pets. If granted, the motion could remain in effect for up to two years and require Hall, 52, to stay at least 100 yards away from the house and Dykeman, according to California law. The case will be heard in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court. To add to her problems, northern Santa Barbara County family law attorneys worry that Hall’s own domestic legal problems will interfere with her decisions in her new assignment on the bench. “I’ve been fielding a lot of calls from colleagues over concerns about the switch to sitting in civil court and her decision-making ability,” said Shannon Fernandez, who leads the Northern Santa Barbara County Bar Association. That group has about 65 members. Court officials announced last week that Hall would be moved from Lompoc Superior Court to Santa Maria to handle civil cases. Along with contract disputes, her caseload there would include family law cases and restraining orders, legal sources said. “All the attorneys I talked to, but one, will not consent to having any case heard in front of her,” said Fernandez. She added that the association’s board met Wednesday night to discuss sending a letter outlining their concerns to Santa Barbara County Superior Court officials. The board decided to delay sending the letter until after the group’s full membership meets within the next month, according to Fernandez. A felony charge against Hall would make the attorneys’ concern moot, sources said. She is shadowing Judge Rodney Melville to learn about her new duties this week while officials await word about what charges Hall will face. Hall’s own legal trouble arose out of stress from her job, according to her attorney, William K. Gamble. Santa Barbara County public defenders reportedly were poised to file an affidavit of prejudice against Hall, seeking to disqualify her on their cases. Hall has gained a reputation as a hard-line judge, especially when it comes to multiple offenders and habitual drunken drivers “There was a lot of stress as a result of the public defenders’ hint of action,” said Gamble. Deputy public defenders said they were ordered not to talk to the media about this issue, referring inquiries to Assistant Public Defender Robert Helgesen or Public Defender James Egar. Neither returned phone calls for comment Thursday. Gamble said Hall continues to have strong support among community members. Staff writer Brenda Poe can be reached at (805) 736-2313, Ext. 108, or by e-mail at lrlifestyles@pulitzer.net. Staff writer Janene Scully contributed to this report. :nav Source: http://www.lompocrecord.com/articles/2003/01/10/news/export8588.txt

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