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October 29, 2013

California judge now criticized by victim's family for marrying defendant after sentencing him to life

In this post from earlier this month, I highlighted a local story headlined "Judge sentences killer, performs wedding," involving a defendant having two notable (and surely life changing) experiences on one sentencing day.  This new story, headlined "San Diego judge criticized for officiating at wedding of killer," now provides this follow-up:

A San Diego judge is being criticized for officiating at the marriage of a convicted killer just minutes after sentencing him to prison. A lawyer representing the family of the defendant's victim has requested that Superior Court Judge Patricia Cookson apologize for officiating at the wedding just minutes after family members had testified "about the devastating impact (of) the murder of their loved one."

Cookson sentenced Danna Desbrow, 36, of Lemon Grove to 53 years to life in prison for his conviction in the killing of Kevin Santos. After having the courtroom cleared of members of the Santos family, Cookson then married Desbrow and his longtime girlfriend at the latter's request. The judge also provided the couple with slices of cake, but it is unclear whether she baked it herself.

The incident, which occurred in the East County branch of the court, was reported Sept. 30 by the U-T San Diego. The newspaper last night posted on its website a letter to Cookson from attorney Paul Kamenar, representing the Santos family.

Cookson, 60, a former deputy district attorney and a judge since 1992, has declined to discuss the incident with reporters or the Santos family.

In his letter, Kamenar told Cookson that her conduct has caused "emotional pain" to the Santos family and "clearly violated" judicial ethics that call for judges to avoid "undermining public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary." The Santos family did not know of the wedding until reading about it in the newspaper, Kamenar said.

"You stepped down from the bench, Bible in hand, and performed a full ceremony in your judicial robes, while the defendant was uncuffed, thereby putting yourself and court personnel in danger," according to the letter.

October 29, 2013 at 09:26 AM | Permalink


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Which is worse.

You decide.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 29, 2013 9:33:43 AM

Wouldn't a judge performing a marriage ceremony for someone they just sentenced to life militate towards a finding of impartiality, as opposed to the opposite? "A judge did something that I didn't like, ergo it is unethical."

Posted by: Guy | Oct 29, 2013 11:56:51 AM

What with changes in the law and whatnot a sentence of life without parole does not mean that he will never get out. But a sentence of marriage! Mein Gott.

Posted by: Liberty1st | Oct 29, 2013 1:46:06 PM

California judge now criticized by victim's family for marrying defendant …

At first I believed that the judge was the bride .

Posted by: Just Plain Jim (Just Another Guy) | Oct 30, 2013 10:43:25 PM

Two Life Sentences in one day.

Somedays it doesn't pay to get out of bed.

Posted by: albeed | Nov 2, 2013 11:41:32 AM

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