On Thursday, August 31, 2023, the California Commission on Judicial Performance reached a verdict in the case of former Judge Derek W. Hunt, who previously served on the Orange County Superior Court. This decision comes following an investigation into allegations of misconduct stemming from three distinct civil actions. As a result of its deliberations, the commission has chosen to administer a public admonishment to Judge Hunt, signaling the seriousness of his actions. The case is entitled “In the Matter of Derek W. Hunt,”

In the initial matter that was scrutinized, concerns were raised about Judge Hunt’s behavior due to his use of discourteous language. This language indicated a potential bias and premature judgment regarding the case at hand. In response, the commission concluded that Judge Hunt’s actions were in breach of his obligation to exhibit patience, dignity, and courtesy toward litigants and legal practitioners. Additionally, his remarks prompted worries about his capacity for impartiality and the impression that he was personally implicated in the case’s intricacies.

In the subsequent case, the issue revolved around an instance of improper ex parte communication initiated by Judge Hunt. This communication transpired after the Court of Appeal had invalidated one of his orders. Judge Hunt’s email correspondence with a justice from the Court of Appeal gave rise to concerns about his involvement in the case’s proceedings and the potential emergence of a conflict of interest.

The third instance of misconduct centered on Judge Hunt’s misuse of authority and disregard for legal principles. Specifically, he deliberately disregarded a litigant’s entitlement to due process, thereby preventing a trial on the merits. His actions in this instance showcased an apparent bias against the litigant and indicated a prejudgment of the underlying action.

In determining an appropriate course of action, the commission weighed Judge Hunt’s past record of disciplinary matters. This prior history was identified as a significant aggravating factor in their decision. Notably, in July of 2022, Judge Hunt had already received a public admonishment from the commission for engaging in misconduct that shared similarities with the current case. Furthermore, the commission considered a previous advisory letter from 2009 as another relevant aspect in forming their final determination.

Judge Hunt attended Cornell University. Derek Hunt was a judge of the Superior Court of Orange County in California located at 700 W Civic Center Dr, Santa Ana, CA 92701, and can be reached at +1 657-622-5800. His info can be found on ballotpedia.org.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.