It 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.