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O.C. judge who was censured for having sex in chambers wins reelection bid

O.C. judge who was censured for having sex in chambers wins reelection bid
Orange County Superior Court Judge Scott Steiner won a reelection bid Tuesday even after he was censured for conduct including having sex in his court chambers. (Orange County Superior Court)

An Orange County Superior Court judge who was censured for having sex with two women in his chambers won his bid for reelection Tuesday over a veteran prosecutor.

Scott Steiner maintained a decisive lead over opponent Karen Schatzle, earning 205,742 votes, or 56.3% of ballots cast, according to unofficial vote results posted by the Orange County registrar of voters. Schatzle, a senior deputy district attorney in Orange County for more than 10 years, received 159,466 votes, or 43.7%.

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"It has been an honor working for the people of Orange County," the judge said on Facebook. "Thank you for supporting me in my efforts to protect victims' rights. With the will of the voters, I will continue my work as a judge of the Orange County Superior Court for a second term."

Steiner, who has been a judge since 2011, vowed to continue to work hard for justice.

He was censured in 2014 for having sex with his intern and a practicing attorney, according to the Commission on Judicial Performance, an oversight board that investigates judicial misconduct. He was also reprimanded for failing to disqualify himself from a case involving a longtime friend.

"Engaging in sexual intercourse in the courthouse is the height of irresponsible and improper behavior by a judge," the commission wrote in its decision to censure.

Both women were students of Steiner's when he was an adjunct professor at Chapman University's law school.

Steiner, a former prosecutor and son of former Orange County Supervisor William Steiner, penned a letter of recommendation for the intern in 2012, according to commission documents. In the letter, he referred to her as "Ms. A" and endorsed her for a job at the Orange County district attorney's office.

She didn't get a call back after her first interview, so Steiner called the office and asked why and acted irritated with the answer, the commission said.

The commission said Steiner's behavior "disrespected" the court's dignity and tarnished his office.

Steiner ultimately admitted wrongdoing.

Schatzle ran on a campaign to "restore integrity" to the judge's seat, railing against Steiner for his actions.

"Scott Steiner has made a mockery of what our community expects of our judiciary," she said on her website. "I feel strongly that the public should be made aware, and that integrity be restored to his position. His actions not only violated the judicial canons that he took an oath to uphold, but betrayed the people he vowed to serve."

For breaking news in California, follow VeronicaRochaLA on Twitter.

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