Superior Court Judge George Eskin (pictured left) was recused
from presiding over the felony child endangerment trial of Sylvia
Vasquez — a popular preschool teacher accused of locking her
adopted children in cages — because of an alleged conflict of
interest. According to Vasquez’s defense attorney Robert Sanger
(pictured right), Eskin proofread portions of the prosecutor’s
second self-published novel Intoxicating Agent, and was one of many
listed in the Acknowledgements. Prosecuting attorney Joyce Dudley
(pictured center) asked Eskin to proofread her manuscript after he
showed her many grammatical errors he found in her first novel,
also a courthouse melodrama. Eskin received no pay for his labor.
Sanger further complained Intoxicating Agent was such a one-sided
slam against defense attorneys that it called into question the
judge’s impartiality. In Dudley’s book, Sanger charged, prosecutors
were uniformly “brave, physically attractive, brilliant, and always
right,” while defense attorneys were “unethical, corrupt,

Eskin countered that, as a former defense attorney, he clearly
did not subscribe to what Sanger described as “apocalyptic
dualism,” adding that he’d spent far more personal time socializing
with Sanger and his wife than with Dudley. Eskin vehemently denied
any conflict existed, and Ventura County Judge William Liebmann
agreed. Sanger then took his case to the Court of Appeals, which
put the case on ice pending resolution. Rather than wait, Judge
Brian Hill reassigned the Vasquez case to Judge Frank Ochoa, who
will hear it later this fall. Hill did not conclude that an actual
conflict of interest existed, only that the case could be heard
sooner if reassigned. Eskin and Sanger first locked horns last year
when Eskin complained Sanger’s involvement with the Michael Jackson
defense team was creating a logjam because it compromised his
ability to try other cases. In one instance, Eskin threatened to
reassign a defendant in a high-profile hit-and-run case to another

— Nick Welsh


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