On Thursday, October 27, 2022, the California Commission on Judicial Performance issued a decision and order imposing a public censure upon Judge Michael J. Mulvihill of the California Superior Court, County of San Joaquin, pursuant to stipulation.

On September 9, 2022, pursuant to Rules of the Commission on Judicial Performance, rule 116.5, Judge Mulvihill, represented by counsel, Paul S. Meyer, and commission counsel submitted a proposed disposition of the matters set forth in the commission’s preliminary investigation letter dated April 20, 2022. The Stipulation for Discipline by Consent was approved by the commission on October 19, 2022.

In its order, the commission determined that it should issue a public censure of Judge Mulvihill for his conduct in driving under the influence of alcohol and causing an accident, his conduct following the accident, including attempting to leave the scene of the accident, making false statements to bystanders, misleading law enforcement officers about the cause of the accident, and underreporting to law enforcement the amount of alcohol he had consumed.

According to the commission, Judge Mulvihill’s conduct reflects poorly on his integrity, negatively impacts the public’s perception of him, and of the judiciary in general, and is seriously at odds with the canons and expected judicial behavior. Judge Mulvihill promptly reported his arrest, acknowledged that he had committed serious misconduct, and cooperated fully and honestly in commission proceedings. The judge also made discourteous remarks towards a litigant in court, which he acknowledged and expressed regret for his lack of dignity and patience.

Several of Judge Mulvihill’s judicial colleagues submitted letters on Judge Mulvihill’s behalf, attesting to his strong work ethic and fair administration of justice, and commending him for taking responsibility for his actions.

The order reads:

“Based on the foregoing analysis and appraisal of Judge Mulvihill’s wrongdoing, the commission concludes the misconduct here does not rise to the level of wrongdoing in which the Supreme Court has imposed the ultimate sanction of removal from office. The commission also concludes that the purposes of judicial discipline as enunciated in Broadman – protection of the public, enforcement of rigorous standards of judicial conduct, and the maintenance of public confidence in the integrity and independence of the judicial system – can be accomplished through a censure. Accordingly, the commission hereby imposes this public censure of Judge Mulvihill.”

Judge Mulvihill assumed office in 2015. His current term ends on January 4, 2027. The judge earned a law degree from Gonzaga University.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.