Retired Judge Gets 120-Day Sentence for Drunk Driving

Times Staff Writer

Retired Superior Court Judge Hugo Fisher was sentenced Friday to 120 days at a county honor ranch, following his third conviction for drunk driving in six years.

Municipal Judge Patricia A.Y. Cowett imposed the sentence and fined Fisher $1,600. However, Cowett allowed Fisher, 65, to remain free until Sept. 28, when he will report to the Sheriff’s Department to begin his sentence at Camp West Fork, near Warner Springs.

In addition to the fines, Fisher was also placed on five years’ probation and ordered to abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages. His driver’s license was suspended for three years and Cowett ordered him to seek counseling, therapy and attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings as directed by the county Probation Department.


Fled Accident Scene

Fisher, dressed in a dark pinstripe suit, smiled and joked with his attorney while awaiting sentencing.

Fisher’s latest brush with the law occurred Jan. 17, when Harbor Police arrested him after he fled the scene of a two-car collision on the ramp leading from Harbor Drive to Harbor Island. He was arrested aboard his sailboat, which was docked in a slip in the Harbor Island marina. There were no injuries in the accident.

That incident led to a charge of drunk driving, hit and run and driving with an expired license.

In 1981, while he was still on the Superior Court bench, Fisher was arrested twice on drunk driving charges. He was arrested in April and fined $400 and placed on three years’ probation after pleading no contest. Fisher was arrested again on Thanksgiving Day, fined and ordered to attend a year of rehabilitation classes for repeat drunk driving offenders.

A few weeks after his Thanksgiving Day arrest, the state Commission on Judicial Performance recommended that Fisher be censured on 30 counts of misconduct for his handling of a $5-million conservatorship that he presided over for six years. The Supreme Court upheld the commission’s recommendation in July, 1982, and Fisher retired six months later.

Fisher was elected in 1958 to the state Senate as a liberal Democrat, representing a largely Republican district in San Diego County. In 1963, he was named head of the state’s Resources Agency and was appointed to the Superior Court Bench in 1966 by Gov. Edmund G. (Pat) Brown.