A former Santa Barbara Superior Court judge who served 20 years on the bench was cited for reckless driving near the Santa Barbara Bowl Monday, when he allegedly came close to hitting several adults and children and drove on a curb while a concert was being let out.

Judge James Slater, who retired as a judge in 1997 after years of hearing both criminal and civil proceedings, drove onto the curb at Milpas and Garcia streets to avoid a barricade preventing him from turning right onto Milpas from Garcia, where he lives, according to the S.B. Police Department’s Lt. Paul McCaffrey. Security officers – one of whom was brushed by the side-view mirror of Slater’s Toyota Prius-witnessed Slater maneuver around the barricade at Garcia and Milpas, as well as almost hit someone pushing a stroller, McCaffrey said.

The Yamato Wadaiko Drummers of Japan performed for an estimated 5,500 elementary school students at the Bowl that morning. The concert had just let out when Slater drove past the barricade about 10:25 a.m.

He proceeded past another barricade, driving into the County Bowl, where an officer had to get out of the way. “He was not going fast but he was not stopping,” McCaffrey said. Slater’s car came to rest on the lawn of the County Bowl, Slater got out and was angry, McCaffrey said, demanding to speak with the head of the County Bowl. Instead, he was ticketed for reckless driving.

Slater, who now works as a mediator and arbitrator at Santa Barbara-based McIvers and Slater and also served one term as a county supervisor, didn’t return messages left at his home and office.

Some years ago, while still sitting on the Santa Barbara Superior Court bench, Slater admitted to deflating the tires of a vehicle with a handicapped card that he found parked in his courthouse parking space.


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