On Wednesday, December 13, 2023, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that longtime San Diego Superior Court Judge Howard Shore was publicly censured by California’s Commission on Judicial Performance for missing over 155 days of work without authorization between 2021 and 2022.

The Commission determined that Judge Shore’s actions constituted a serious dereliction of his duties and demonstrated a flagrant disregard for his obligations. An investigation found that over an 18 month period, Judge Shore failed to show up to work at the courthouse on any Friday. His frequent and undocumented absences undermined public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary.

Judge Shore had served on the bench since 1998 and presided over both criminal and civil cases. However, in late 2022 the Presiding Judge of the San Diego Superior Court, Michael Smyth, launched an investigation into concerns over Judge Shore’s unexplained absences. Records showed that Judge Shore had only entered the courthouse or parking garage on limited occasions, and phone logs suggested he was rarely working from his chambers.

After reviewing records and meeting with Judge Shore, it was determined he had missed at least 155 days of work beyond available vacation time over the reviewed period. Judge Shore initially denied the unapproved absences but later admitted to not coming to work most Fridays. He claimed these absences were to assist with family health issues and orthodox Jewish obligations that prevented travel on Sabbath. However, it was proven through records that Judge Shore did not work a single Friday between May 2021 and November 2022.

While a public censure is less severe than removal from the bench, it is still considered a serious sanction. Judge Shore acknowledged the poor decisions that led to the disciplinary action and expressed regret over his unexcused absences that failed to meet expected standards for a member of the judiciary.

 

Source: The San Diego Union-Tribune