Wednesday, February 8, 2012
CJP Admonishes Judge After Tiff With Colleague
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Commission on Judicial Performance yesterday issued a public admonishment to a Trinity Superior Court judge who cancelled a court reporter who was scheduled to work in the courtroom of the county’s only other judge.
The commission, in a unanimous decision, said Judge Anthony C. Edwards breached his duty “to respect and comply with the law” and to “be faithful to the law” when he cancelled Judge James Woodward’s reporter in what Edwards’ counsel told the CJP was an effort to “prompt Judge Woodward to engage in a dialogue about court expenses.”
Edwards had argued that he acted as part of his duties as the court’s presiding judge. The commission admonished him pursuant to its rule 115, meaning that Edwards waived the right to contest the discipline through formal proceedings, and gave up his right to seek review in the Supreme Court.
The commission cited a July 19, 2010 e-mail Edwards sent to Woodward advising his colleague that there was no need for a court reporter on July 19, even though Edwards knew there were several matters, including preliminary hearings, on Woodward’s calendar.
“If we can cancel that court reporter today without incurring a claim tell me why we shouldn’t,” Edwards wrote. “If I don’t hear from you I will presume you agree and I will have [Acting Court Executive Officer] L. Wills call her off.”
Edwards then cancelled the reporter, even though Woodward e-mailed back and said he had a “number of matters set on the 19th that require a court reporter,” including the preliminary hearings, the commission noted.
“Judge Edwards’s purported desire to prompt Judge Woodward to engage in a dialogue about court expenses was not a valid justification for cancellation of the court reporter in Judge Woodward’s cases and was for a purpose other than the faithful discharge of judicial duties,” the commission said in its decision.
The commission also noted that earlier in 2010, Edwards had been publicly admonished for abuse of authority, after he dismissed certain infractions and misdemeanors on the basis that the defendants lived in Hayfork and were cited by law enforcement to appear in Weaverville, and by threatening to do so in all cases.
There was no court order or legal requirement that a Hayfork resident’s initial court appearance be in Hayfork, the commission explained.
Edwards has been a judge in Trinity County since his election in 1994, and is up for election this year.
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company