A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge was acquitted Monday of the charge that he had offered to pay an opponent to drop out of a 2008 election.
The panel returned the verdict finding Judge Harvey Silberman not guilty of a count of elections code violation after about a day of deliberation, ending a trial that marked a rare prosecution of a sitting judge. Silberman was accused of violating a law that makes it a felony to offer money to dissuade someone from running for public office.
Silberman, 54, broke into a wide grin as the verdict was read and silently mouthed “Thank you” to the jurors. He had faced up to three years in state prison if convicted.
Outside court, he said the two years since he was indicted in mid-2009 had been “horribly nerve-racking” but that he had kept his faith in the judicial system.
“I believe in the process, I’ve devoted my life to the process,” he said after the verdict. “This can do nothing but make me a better judge.”
The criminal case stemmed from phone calls before the June 2008 election in which Silberman ran for seat No. 69 on the Superior Court bench against Deputy Dist. Atty. Serena Murillo. In one phone call, Murillo was given the message that Silberman would be willing to pay her $1,787 filing fee if she would drop out of his race to run in another.
Murillo declined and ran, unsuccessfully, against Silberman.