Two California Judges Sanctioned For Sex In Chambers

140902-Judge-Cory-Woodwardscott-steinerIt is a rather bizarre week for the California bench after two judges were separately sanctions for sex in their chambers. Orange County Superior Court Judge Scott Steiner (right) was censured for such multiple trysts with women. Kern County Superior Court Judge Cory Woodward (left) magnified the sanctionable conduct by not just having multiple trysts with his court clerk from July of 2012 until May of last year but engaging in such conduct in both his chambers and in public places. Both were censured but allowed to continue on the bench. Both are former prosecutors.

The state Commission on Judicial Performance called Steiner’s actions “the height of irresponsible and improper” behavior that “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.”

In censuring Woodward, the Commission noted that he also lied about the relationship when confronted by his presiding judges in a bid to block her transfer.

The censuring however does not mandate removal from the bench.

Woodward was appointed by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in December 2006 and was re-elected in 2008. His current term expires in January 2015 and then the voters will decide his fate if he runs again. He received his B.A. from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his J.D. degree from the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law. Before joining the bench, we served as a prosecutor with the Kern County District Attorney’s Office.

As for Steiner, he became as a Deputy District Attorney in the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and prosecuted hate crimes and later gangs. He also has taught as an adjunct professor of California Evidence at Chapman Law School. In 2010, Steiner won election to the Orange County Superior Court of California without opposition. Steiner began a six-year term on January 3, 2011, so he has a longer time to sit on the bench. It will remain to be seen if time heals all wounds with voters. He graduated from the University of California, Irvine in 1996 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and received his J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.

44 thoughts on “Two California Judges Sanctioned For Sex In Chambers”

  1. If neither of them porked a woman On the bench during open court, then I see no problem.

  2. JAG, In many cases it is consensual. But, I have seen male attorneys pressure females into getting under the desk. Few people know attorneys better than I, JAG. There are a lot of real pigs w/ Esq. after their names.

  3. I think the State Commission handled it properly in my opinion. The trysts were consensual and as best I can tell, not related to any cases in front of the judges.

  4. Thankless? It got him on the bench. We love our prosecutors in this country, and the harder they bang on the war-on-crime drum the better it is for their career.
    Gang violence is horrible, but the criminal justice system hasn’t fixed it. Meanwhile gang prosecutions are a runaway train of dogma, Brady violations, and general disregard for the 4th, 5th, and 6th amendments.

  5. Ugh. Having sex with your students? I was always taught that was a big no-no when I taught at the university.

    “According to the Commission on Judicial Performance, Orange County Superior Court Judge Scott Steiner had sex on multiple occasions in his chambers with a woman who had worked as an intern for him and another woman who is an attorney. Both women are students in law school classes taught by Steiner.”

  6. Strange to me is no mention of the marriage status of those involved. I did find that the court clerk was married, but what about the Judges? I don’t have the time or inclination to look up that info, but it is reflective of the times we live in that marriage seems not to have any legal status at all anymore. In past cultures, adultery was a capital offense, but in today’s hedonistic culture of gay marriage rights, the concept of marriage having legal ramifications in regards to this kind of behavior seem to be meaningless.

  7. Well, I guess the Committee thinks boys will be boys. This calls for an Irish Poem, too!

    The Chambered Naughtiness???
    An Irish Poem by Squeeky Fromm

    There once were some guys on the bench,
    Who liked coming through in the clench???
    Twas not sua sponte.
    Delicto? FLAGRANTE!
    And they measured success by the inch!

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  8. Come on Nick…. that male attorney’s are office sexual predators????

    Yeah, Cuz we have NEVER heard of the ladies in the Office, gunning for the BOSS or the successful lawyer….

  9. Ohhh good grief….

    Isn’t part of the FUN of becoming a Judge is christening your chamber with a little nooky???

    It is NOT as if they were doing this during a session or anything….

    That is like getting upset over a CEO doing it in his office….

    WE are such an uptight society….

  10. Gary

    I caught that too, but it isn’t surprising given how many judges are former prosecutors. That would be like noting that two CEOs are both former business students

    Incidentally, I have never heard of these men before, but the few sentences on their backgrounds informs me that I loathe them. If Woodward was considered successful in Kern county, that pretty much guarantees that he’s a rat. Steiner prosecuted gangs in Orange county, that tells me he spent several years throwing any book he could find at every black or brown person whose file crossed his desk.

    Hopefully the scandal tanks Woodward’s re-election, and a secondary scandal pops up to shame Steiner off the bench.

    1. Liz W – going after gangs is a thankless job. Having worked with kids who were in gangs and after going to a couple of funerals of students who were killed because of the gang they were in, I finally told my students I was not going to go to another funeral for a gang member.
      Gangs come in all colors and in Arizona gangs are integrated. At one school I was at, the head of the Bloods was so white he was transparent. Gangs prey on the community and tend to terrorize it. If he was going after gangs more power to him.

  11. The dirty secret among male attorneys is many are office sexual predators, not unlike Bubba. Getting a female secretary, paralegal, attorney, under you desk is a point of pride. They keep score and have contests.

  12. Not sure that consensual sex should be a disqualifying factor. I don’t approve of the behavior, but clearly judges in CA can no longer complain that they are over worked.

  13. “the height of irresponsible and improper” behavior that “reflects an utter disrespect for the dignity and decorum of the court…”, and yet not removed from the bench? So what does it take to be removed?

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