This is the property of the Daily Journal Corporation and fully protected by copyright. It is made available only to Daily Journal subscribers for personal or collaborative purposes and may not be distributed, reproduced, modified, stored or transferred without written permission. Please click "Reprint" to order presentation-ready copies to distribute to clients or use in commercial marketing materials or for permission to post on a website. and copyright (showing year of publication) at the bottom.

Judges and Judiciary

Feb. 8, 2024

Humboldt County judge accused of groping, anti-Semitic comments

Judge Gregory J. Elvine-Kreis has denied the Commission on Judicial Performance accusations. His attorney said most of them date from before he was appointed to the bench.

The Commission on Judicial Performance announced formal proceedings against Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Gregory J. Elvine-Kreis, who among other things is accused of calling a deputy public defender "Jewboy" and throwing him into a lake during a boat party.

The judge faces 19 counts, including "willful misconduct in office, conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice that brings the judicial office into disrepute, and improper action." Several of these relate to an alleged altercation during a drunken 2019 boat party on Lake Shasta, and its aftermath.

"The initial counts relate to the litigation that was brought against the county, Judge Kreis and others by the former Deputy Public Defender Rory Kalin," said James A. Murphy, who represents Kreis as founding shareholder of Murphy Pearson Bradley & Feeney PC in San Francisco. "I think the investigation against Judge Kreis started as a result of that lawsuit and a complaint that was registered by Mr. Kalin."

The commission's notice of formal proceeding also claims Elvine-Kreis repeatedly presided over family law cases involving people he knew well without disclosing that fact or recusing himself. Other counts claim he improperly gave legal advice, made racist and inappropriate comments on the bench, used cocaine, drank frequently when off work, and in one alleged incident, groped a husband and wife while intoxicated.

Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Elvine-Kreis to the bench in 2017. At the time he was a supervising attorney at the Humboldt County Public Defender's Office, where had worked since 2010.
Some of the alleged events date from before Elvine-Kreis took the bench, though most are alleged to have occurred after.

"It all started with Kalin," Murphy said. "A lot of these alleged events took place when he was a lawyer, not a judge. I kind of question what they're doing here."

The first count details allegations similar to those in Kalin's civil complaint alleging Elvine-Kreis was liable for assault, battery, civil rights violations and intentional infliction of emotional distress. According to the complaint filed by Eureka-based attorney Cyndy Day-Wilson, during the gathering attended "by approximately 25 people," a "belligerent and intoxicated" Elvine-Kreis taunted Kalin by calling him "Jew-Boy," mocking his appearance and shoving him off the boat.

This was the month after Kalin suffered a traumatic brain injury after "being struck in the head by a golf ball hit by a third party," Day-Wilson wrote. In the weeks after the incident, Kalin claimed, co-workers influenced by Elvine-Kreis "distanced" themselves from him, causing further anxiety and emotional distress. Kalin v. Elvine-Kreis, CV2000357 (Humboldt Super. Ct., filed March 6, 2020).

Murphy said the county obtained summary judgment against Kalin, and that there was "a nominal settlement paid on behalf of the judge by an insurance company" in the separate case against Elvine-Kreis.

"We believe that the evidence will never support the claims made relative to Mr. Kalin," Murphy said. "There was a fair amount of discovery undertaken in that lawsuit. The witnesses to the incident do not support the claims that were advanced by Mr. Kalin. As to the allegations of drug usage, the witnesses all testified it was Mr. Kalin who was vaping constantly with marijuana products."

Day-Wilson responded to an email inquiry by stating she is no longer Kalin's attorney. Kalin referred an email seeking comment to his current attorney, Johnny Rundell, a partner with the employment firm Hershey Law PC in Encino. Rundell did not respond to an email inquiry.

The commission's notice also includes another claim from the 2019 party -- that Kreis wore a woman's yellow bikini top, as shown in an image from that day published by a newspaper. The notice, signed by commission Chairman Dr. Michael A. Moodian, claimed this "gave the appearance that you were taunting or mocking Stefanie Kalin, who wore a yellow bikini top at the event."

Elvine-Kreis has publicly denied Kalin's claims. At a December news conference announcing his reelection bid, Elvine-Kreis said he had settled Kalin's suit out of court. On the March 5 ballot, he is being challenged by April Van Dyke, a former deputy public defender in Humboldt and San Joaquin counties.

Van Dyke sued the San Joaquin County Office of the Public Defender in 2019, alleging sexual harassment and retaliation.

Elvine-Kreis' answer to the commission's charges is due Feb. 22. Humboldt County is under the jurisdiction of California's 1st District Court of Appeal, meaning any hearing before special masters in the case would likely take place in San Francisco.


Malcolm Maclachlan

Daily Journal Staff Writer

For reprint rights or to order a copy of your photo:

Email for prices.
Direct dial: 949-702-5390

Send a letter to the editor: