On Friday, September 9, 2022, the California Commission on Judicial Performance filed 21 counts of misconduct against Tony Mallery, Judge of Lassen County Superior Court, for actions on and off the court.

The allegations include violations of the Code of Judicial Ethics, canons 1, 2, 2A, 2B(2), 3, 3B(2), 3B(5), 3B(7), 3B(8), 3B(12). 3C(1), 3C(2), 3C(3), 3C(5), 3D(4), 3D(5), 4A.

In a 50-page notice of formal proceedings, the commission charged Judge Mallery with willful misconduct in office, conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice that brings the judicial office into disrepute, and improper action within the meaning of article VI, section 18 of the California Constitution.

According to the notice, the Judicial Council was allegedly contacted by Mallery last year to retain a lawyer to look into allegations that court personnel had inappropriately downloaded courtroom files onto their personal email servers. The legal department of the Judicial Council rejected the request, pointing out that at least some of the employee emails Mallery requested to be reviewed were associated with an ongoing commission inquiry against him.

Judge Mallery then asked the court’s executive officer what was happening, or had happened, with the court’s investigation of court staff’s emails. When the court’s executive officer responded that she had “no idea,” Judge Mallery suggested that she conduct an investigation into who had been giving information to the commission over a previous couple of months to find out who the “mole” was.

The commission accused Judge Mallery of retaliating against three employees for cooperating with the commission.

The notice reads:

“By making known that you wanted court staff’s communications with the commission to be examined and that you intended to retaliate against individuals cooperating with the commission, you caused there to be a chilling effect on the willingness of witnesses to cooperate with the commission’s ongoing investigation of your conduct.”

The court’s executive officer allegedly asked Judge Mallery what he will do if removed from office, the judge allegedly said that “I’m gonna go postal,” which the court’s executive officer reasonably perceived to be a threat of violence. After the court’s executive officer warned Judge Mallery about using that phrase, the judge allegedly replied, “If someone were to take everything from you, it’s inevitable to feel that way,” or words to that effect.

Judge Mallery’s answer to the notice is due September 29, 2022. Upon filing, the judge’s answer will be made available for public inspection.

According to the commission, the commencement of formal proceedings is not a determination of judicial misconduct. The parties will have an opportunity to present their views on the report to the commission through briefing and argument. If the commission determines that the charges are proven by clear and convincing evidence, it is empowered to remove, censure, publicly admonish, or privately discipline the judge. Charges that the commission determines are not proven will be dismissed. A determination by the commission to remove, censure, or admonish a judge is subject to discretionary review by the Supreme Court upon petition by the judge.

The Judge earned a law degree from the Northern School of Law.
The Judge’s Courtroom is at 2610 Riverside Drive in Susanville and can be reached at (530) 251-8205.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.