The Region

The no-contest plea of a Santa Monica surgeon to a misdemeanor child-molesting charge in Ventura County was overturned by a federal appeals court in San Francisco because his lawyer wrongly told him that the judge had promised a 90-day sentence. Instead of the sentence he was expecting, Dr. John Chizen was given the maximum term, 180 days in jail. But the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said Chizen, now 53, was entitled to withdraw his plea and go to trial because he had been misled about the consequences by an apparently honest but mistaken statement by his lawyer, Sheldon Andelson. As an alternative, the court suggested giving Chizen the 90-day sentence he thought he had plea-bargained for. That idea was endorsed by Deputy Dist. Atty. Michael Schwartz of Ventura County, who said it would be preferable to a trial five years after the 1981 incident. Schwartz said Chizen was accused of fondling a 16-year-old boy after picking him up while bowling and taking him to a motel in Ojai. He pleaded no contest after signing a standard form saying the plea was voluntary.

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