In 1976, David Minier, shown here, was named District Attorney for Madera County after a strange twist of events that left one justice court judge out of a job and the district attorney at the time disenchanted with his job. Minier went on to become a justice court judge and a Madera County Superior Court Judge. (Courtesy of The Madera County Historical Society)
The advent of Judge David Minier on the judicial scene in Madera County came In January 1976, and it was a convoluted affair. The Madera County Grand Jury for 1975 had issued a report that was highly critical of Justice Court Judge Sam Roberts and District Attorney James Hanhart.
It all started with an allegation that Judge Roberts had made improper mileage claims for job-related travel. The county inquisitors disqualified Hanhart from participating in the matter because of the working relationship the district attorney’s office had with the justice courts. Instead they turned to the Attorney General’s Office for assistance.
When the attorney general determined that there were insufficient facts upon which to base any criminal action against Roberts, Grand Jury Forewoman, Mrs. Constance Vind, called the opinion a “blatant whitewash” and contacted California State Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Wright. He turned the inquiry over to the Judicial Qualifications Commission.
Meanwhile, juror Sunny Nishimoto became concerned that the Grand Jury was proceeding without proper legal counsel and sought advice from the district attorney. This apparently didn’t sit well with the other jurors, and they dismissed Nishimoto from the panel. Then they went after Hanhart...