Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Pressure Play

(Napa Valley Register photo)
Sometimes a small news item catches my attention because it seems like there's more to the story. Napa Judge Michael Williams attended a March, 2016 dinner and lifted two (2) fancy business-card holders worth $50 each. "Several weeks later, a lawyer told Williams he had been seen on video taking the holders and suggested that he return them", which the judge did the next day accompanied by a letter of apology.

Now the Commission on Judicial Performance is looking into the matter: [bold added]
Williams has been charged with willful misconduct, prejudicial conduct that brings disrepute to the judicial office, and improper action. He could be admonished, censured, or even dismissed from the bench for his conduct.
Possibly ending a person's career for what is surely a very minor lapse, since rectified, is extreme overkill.

Michael Williams became a judge in 2012 at the age of 66(!) when he was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to serve out the term of another judge who resigned for health reasons. Judge Williams was unopposed for re-election in 2014 and his current term expires in 2021, when he will be 74.

There are a multitude of reasons--ranging from the professionally valid to the nefarious---why someone could be lowering the boom on Judge Williams. It won't be surprising at all if he resigns, the charges are dropped, and the public never learns what's truly going on. I hope he enjoys his retirement.

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