California judge who mocked blind man emblematic of failed traffic court system

Judge Taylor Culver is accused of ‘willful misconduct’ by the state’s commission on judicial performance, providing a rare window into how police agencies and courts use traffic courts to target low-income people.

News Story (California)

Sam Levin
October 20, 2016

Tags: Courts, Traffic Tickets

Organizations mentioned/involved: East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC) (Berkeley, CA), Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area (LCCR)


Civil rights lawyers say the problem is just as bad in liberal California and that the Culver charges illustrate how traffic judges have wide discretion to abuse vulnerable defendants and order fines that can destroy people’s lives.

“He’s the worst I’ve ever been in front of,” said Osha Neumann, supervising attorney with the East Bay Community Law Center who represented Mayo in his 2015 case. “People were generally treated with almost a sneering contempt. [Culver] seemed like a person who was angry with the world … and took it out on the people who appeared before him.”

Culver is facing 10 counts in the misconduct case, including charges that he is “unfit to serve” and that he is “prejudicial to the administration of justice”.

In one case, Culver screamed “Keep your mouth shut!” at a female defendant, according to the complaint. He then allegedly threatened to “fight” her, saying: “I wish I didn’t have this robe on. We would straighten it out.”