Alameda County judge disciplined for bullying demeanor

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch conducted himself in a “discourteous” manner and became embroiled during separate cases in 2015 and 2017, the California Commission on Judicial Performance ruled on Thursday.

“Although Judge Roesch believed, based on faulty assumptions, that his intervention in each case was justified, it is the misguided manner in which he attempted to address his misassumptions, and the discourteous way he comported himself toward those appearing in court before him, that is the basis for this discipline,” the commission wrote.

Roesch’s admonishment by the commission was first reported by Law.com.

In 2015, a jury trial in which Roesch presided ended with the plaintiff being awarded $55 million. But during the trial Roesch improperly forced a witness for the defendant to assert her Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination in front of the jury. The Court of Appeals later overturned the ruling due to Roesch’s behavior, the commission reported.

Roesch’s behavior also amounted to embroilment, the commission found, an instance when a judge is “attempting to see to it that a certain result prevails out of a misguided perception of the judicial role.”

Similarly in 2017, during a hearing regarding a property title, Roesch was also found to have acted discourteous and embroiled himself in the case, the commission found. Roesch dismissed the case with prejudice, but it was later overturned on appeal.

Roesch was privately admonished in 2011 for similar impolite behavior in the courtroom. In an exchange with a litigant representing himself, Roech told him, “Well, I can see why you don’t practice law. You don’t bother to read the law.”

In October 2019, Roesch was the superior court judge who issued a restraining order pursued by the city of Oakland to block Alameda County’s proposed sale of 50 percent of the Coliseum complex to the Oakland Athletics. The city later dropped the lawsuit.