Former Humboldt County Judge, Accused of 19 Counts of Violating Code of Judicial Ethics, Loses Reelection 

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By Julie McCaffrey

HUMBOLDT COUNTY, CA — Former Judge Gregory Elvine-Kreis has failed to be re-elected to the Humboldt County Superior Court after a hefty ethics complaint was filed against him, according to the North Coast Journal.

The Commission on Judicial Performance began an investigation into the claims early February after filing a notice of formal proceedings, added the Journal, detailing the 35-page notice that charges Kreis with 19 counts of violating the Code of Judicial Ethics beginning in 2015 and ending in 2023.

In 2019, Kreis allegedly displayed inappropriate conduct at a campout event held at the Antlers RV Park and Campground in Lakehead-Lakeshore in Shasta County, which was attended by members of the court, his wife, and children, according to the notice.

The notice alleged Kreis ridiculed numerous attorneys, stating one “dressed like an old man,” telling Assistant Public Defender Luke Brownfield, “I cannot believe you have not fired this guy yet,” regarding Deputy Public Defender Rory Kalin, also calling DPD Kalin a “Jewboy” on multiple occasions throughout the campout and pushing him into the lake while fully clothed.

DPD Kalin filed a lawsuit against former Judge Kreis, which has since been settled, said the Journal.

Kreis also displayed sexually inappropriate behavior, according to the notice, noting while Quincy Brownfield, wife of APD Brownfield, was holding her child, Kreis allegedly mimed a lap dance on her and “moved (his) body and moaned or made other noises that suggested (he was) having sex with Ms. Brownfield.”

The notice stated, wrote the Journal, Kreis failed to disclose the events that occurred in 2019 or his socializing with DPD Kalin when DPD Kalin appeared before him in 10 cases. He also failed to disclose his close friend was APD Brownfield, who was then supervising DPD Kalin.

The report also alleges Kreis was in an extramarital affair with the court’s family law facilitator while he was assigned to the family law calendar between 2017 and 2021. The affair allegedly began in the fall of 2019, and by fall of 2020, courtroom clerk Lois Casacca told other court staff about her suspicions.

Kreis then complained to the Presiding Judge Joyce Hinrchs, stating the rumors were false, which led to Casacca’s termination in 2021, said the Journal, noting the notice states “by making false or misleading statements…and not correcting them, [he] violated the Code of Judicial Ethics.”

Former Judge Kreis also, added the Journal, failed to disclose that his wife worked closely with plaintiff, Gemma Erickson, and presided over her dissolution case. Erickson went to Kreis’ house multiple times and he greeted her on all occasions.

The notice states he neglected to appropriately disclose that his wife provided assistance to Erickson and she visited his house, and Erickson filed to have complete custody over her (and her husband’s) daughter and to move to England, which he ruled in favor of.

Ben Erickson, Erickson’s former husband, represented by Attorney Rory Hanson, has filed multiple cases against Kreis, and wrote on Facebook, recounted the Journal, “Rory Hanson was my lawyer, and he covered for Judge Elvine Kreis in violation of the code of conduct for judges against me. I’m already taking this judge to court myself, next up is Rory…In my case, the judge has Rory Hanson in his pocket.”

In November 2018, former Judge Kreis repeatedly assaulted several people with whom he was at a gathering, wrote the Journal regarding the ethics charges, noting the gathering was held at the home of David and Megan Nim, and Katelyn Woods and Ryan Woods, relatives of Nim, were also present at this gathering, along with Kreis’ own wife.

As Kreis left the gathering, he allegedly “hugged Mr. Woods, grabbed/or slapped his buttocks, and said words to the effect of “everyone’s going to get one,” according to the notice, adding “your wife’s going to get one, too.” To Ms. Woods, the notice alleged, Kreis said, “I’m going to do it to you” and, “It’s what we do here.”

The notice added, despite Woods stating firmly that Kreis was not permitted to touch her in that way, he allegedly told her he would do it anyway, then hugged her and grabbed or slapped her buttocks without her consent.

The notice includes another allegation of sexual misconduct toward an attorney in Humboldt County, alleging, in 2015 at a party held at the attorney’s house, Kreis entered the bedroom where the attorney was sleeping, pulled down his pants, and had his penis out and near her face as he tried to wake her.

Other counts the notice states include driving with open alcohol, cocaine use, threatening court personnel, failing to disclose personal relationships and collaborations, and violating due process.

Many of the counts noted former Judge Kreis conducted himself in an inappropriate manner in court—including belittling defendants and court officials alike, blatantly ignoring recommendations of medical professionals, speaking to a minor privately without their or their guardian’s consent, accusing defendants of racism, and calling DDA Schaffer a “bitch” or a “pretentious bitch.”

Former Judge Kreis responded to the notice by denying all counts of misconduct in an 18-page document filed by Kreis’ attorney, James Murphy, said the Journal, and painted some charges as being brought forward by individuals with grudges and tried to discredit them.

Regarding his demeanor towards DPD Kalin, his response states, said the Journal, “It is believed that Mr. Kalin made up these allegations after he was fired from the public defender’s office in order to enhance his lawsuits against Humboldt County and Judge Kreis,” and regarding the allegation of calling DPD Kalin a “Jewboy” the response stated, “perhaps this is an imagined statement since the witnesses all confirm that Mr. Kalin was into the heavy use of cannabis products during the event, and over-using prescribed medications.”

The Journal wrote people in Humboldt County have taken to online sites such as The Robing Room, a website that allows people to write anonymous reviews of judges, to voice their displeasure regarding the conduct of  Kreis.

One user wrote on March 6, “Yesterday, a super majority of voters removed Kreis from the bench. He will be forgotten. But, let’s not forget his many victims. It will take a lifetime for some of his victims to heal. He bullied the vulnerable. He laughed at sorrow. He abused power. He brought shame upon his family, his community, and himself. 

“It’s extremely rare for a judge to be charged by the ethics commission. It’s even rarer (if not unprecedented) for a judge to be charged with so many heinous offenses and crimes. In his response to the ethics commission, he blamed his victims and friends. May justice be done.”

Another user wrote, “Dishonorable Gregory J. Elvine Kreis a man baby should be kicked to the curb…The man clearly is unfit to work as a judge. He is a dishonor to the judicial system. Laws have to change about how a person can be a judge in the U.S. superior court system.”

Notably, many posters complained about the former judge’s conduct regarding family court. One user posted, “Judge Elvine-Kreis does not uphold parents to equal standards. I believe he is damaging many children’s lives by his excessive punishments and standards against one party and not the other. He won’t accept women and mothers can be just as guilty of domestic violence as men. 

“He repeatedly places children with a parent who is violent, manipulative, mentally ill, abusing drugs…etc. without any safety net. I’ve seen these same parents be re-arrested for the same crimes because he refuses to uphold any standards or accountability. He has no problem showing bias. He does not address certain truths and facts depending on his personal opinion of you or his emotions. Allows dishonesty and hurtful comments in his courtroom. 

“I feel sorry for the children’s lives he has destroyed so I feel this needs to be said. Not to mention his out-of-court shenanigans…”

Similar negative comments trickled to Redheaded Blackbelt, a website dedicated to “news, nature and community throughout the Emerald Triangle.” 

“The only positive thing people say about going through the Humboldt County family law court today is “at least Kreis isn’t the judge anymore,” writes one commenter. “This would be a HUGE step backwards.”

Another wrote, “I feel so sorry for all the kids that have had their lives ruined by this man. He is nearly universally despised by everyone who works with young people. Stop him from causing even more harm.”

According to the North Coast Journal, former judge Kreis lost to April Van Dyke, who led with 60 percent of votes on March 6. Kreis is still being investigated for these misconduct claims.

About The Author

Julie is a third year at UC Davis majoring in Communications and Psychology with a minor in Philosophy. She hopes to advocate for women's reproductive rights and make the justice system fairer for sexual assault survivors.

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