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OC ex-judge admonished for misbehavior

November 6, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
A retired Orange County judge was publicly admonished by a state agency Thursday for telling the parties before him that he didn't want to hear their case. The Commission on Judicial Performance rebuked Superior Court Judge John M. Watson for his actions during a 2006 case that involved a dispute among neighbors in Seal Beach. It was at least the third time the panel reprimanded him in his nearly 18 years on the county bench.

Watson, who retired last month, told the neighbors he didn't want to hear about testimony that came during a pretrial deposition.

"Believe me, the last thing in the world I would look at unless somebody points a gun at my head is a deposition in this case," he said. "I don't even want to hear this case, let alone read depositions."

The commission said in its ruling that Watson "failed to be patient, dignified and courteous with the parties and lawyers."

In February 2006, the commission reprimanded Watson for using his taxpayer-funded courtroom clerk to help with secretarial tasks involving the day-to-day management of two rental properties he owned. Eight months later, the panel privately admonished Watson for an e-mail sent to other judges that was perceived as biased or prejudiced.


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