Saratoga residents want justice court judge ousted
People accuse judge of abusing those who come before his bench.
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Saratoga Springs • It wasn't a typical honk-and-wave.

Instead of urging people to support a candidate in November's election, more than 20 people gathered on the windswept corner of State Route 73 and Redwood Road to call for Justice Court Judge Keith M. Stoney's ouster in the Nov. 2 retention election.

The protesters, who included former computer pitchman "Super" Dell Schanze, alleged the judge deals harsher sentences to those who try to assert their innocence before him than those who just plead guilty.

The protesters waved signs accusing Stoney of turning "good citizens into criminals" and equating him to "Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde."

"He violates civil rights and he violates judicial procedure," said Edward Peltekian, who organized the rally.

Attempts to contact Stoney were unsuccessful. The city's justice court office was closed and a phone number listed in his name went unanswered Friday.

Peltekian said Stoney charged members of his family with misdemeanor counts of allowing a dog to run loose and not having registration, offenses he said should have been classified as administrative code violations instead.

Peltekian succeeded in getting the charges dropped against himself, but the city then filed the charges against his son, Ryan, and his sister, Ann Bieker. Bieker entered a plea in abeyance and was sentenced to six month's probation in March.

"We're talking about a woman who did not do anything wrong," said Patrick Bieker, her husband. "It should have been an infraction."

Ryan's case will be heard in court Sept. 24.

Peltekian's wife, Elaine Damron, said when she went to her son's hearing in August 2009, she tried to record some of the proceedings on her cellphone, not knowing the rules. She said she stopped when a police officer told her to, but Stoney found her in contempt of court and had her jailed for 24 hours. She said he initially wanted to send her away for five days.

Others at the protest shared their own allegations against the judge.

Schanze was found guilty of reckless driving and three seat-belt violations in Stoney's court in August 2009 and was sentenced to 10 days in jail, along with a $670 fine. Schanze said Stoney denied him an attorney and a jury to hear the case, and sent him to jail immediately after the trial.

"Obviously, I'm not the only one he's screwed with," Schanze said.