Two California judges censured for sex in chambers

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 02, 2014 7:46 PM

By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Two California judges who had sex in their respective chambers - one with his clerk and the other with multiple women - have been censured for those acts along with other related misconduct, a state judicial commission said on Tuesday.

The two judges serve in separate superior courts in different parts of the state and their discipline cases were unrelated.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Scott Steiner was censured by the state Commission on Judicial Performance for engaging in sexual activity in his chambers on multiple occasions with women. The commission called it "the height of irresponsible and improper" behavior.

"It reflects an utter disrespect for the dignity and decorum of the court, and is seriously at odds with a judge’s duty to avoid conduct that tarnishes the esteem of the judicial office in the public’s eye," the commission said in a written order.

The commission said Steiner also wrote a letter of recommendation for one of the women to the Orange County District Attorney's Office and called there to express irritation when she was not hired.

“Judge Steiner cooperated fully in the investigation. He apologizes and appreciates the Commission’s thorough review and fair findings in this matter,” attorney Paul Meyer, who represented Steiner in the matter, said in a written statement.

The commission also censured Kern County Superior Court Judge Cory Woodward, who it said carried on an intimate affair with his court clerk from July of 2012 until May of last year, engaging in sexual activity with her in his chambers and in public places.

The commission said Woodward passed notes of a sexual nature to the clerk during court proceedings and lied about the relationship when confronted by his presiding judges in a bid to block her transfer.

"Judge Woodward cooperated fully with the Commission’s inquiry. As the Commission recognized, he expressed great remorse and contrition," Meyer, who also represented Woodward, said in a separate statement. "He has apologized and appreciates the thorough review of the Commission in this matter.”

Both Woodward and Steiner were allowed to remain on the bench despite the censure. In both cases, the commission cited their acknowledgement of wrongdoing and expressions of remorse.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Peter Cooney)