On Thursday, September 12, 2023, The Columbian reported that the Washington Commission on Judicial Conduct has recently dismissed a misconduct case against former Clark County District Court Judge Darvin Zimmerman. The commission cited concerns over Zimmerman’s health as the reason for the dismissal.

In November 2021, the commission found probable cause that Zimmerman had violated the Code of Judicial Conduct by making disparaging comments about a local Black man who was fatally shot by Clark County sheriff’s deputies. However, due to Zimmerman’s serious medical condition, the fact-finding hearing was repeatedly rescheduled until the case was ultimately dismissed. This article will provide an overview of the case and discuss the implications of the commission’s decision.

In March 2021, Zimmerman was caught on courtroom cameras making derogatory remarks about a black man and his father, who had been involved in a controversial incident with the Clark County Sheriff’s deputies. The Washington Commission on Judicial Conduct filed a statement of charges against Zimmerman in December 2021, alleging that his comments displayed racial bias, indicated a lack of impartiality, and implied improper communication with the sheriff’s department.

Zimmerman denied the charges brought against him by the commission. However, the fact-finding hearing was repeatedly rescheduled due to Zimmerman’s serious medical condition, which was not disclosed publicly. The commission sealed Zimmerman’s medical information but stated that it would have proceeded with the hearing if he had been physically able to participate. As outlined in the report by the Abusive Discretion, a fact-finding hearing for the Zimmerman case was scheduled to take place on September 26, 2023. This hearing was scheduled to be conducted through a remote videoconference format.

However, the case against Zimmerman was dismissed without prejudice, meaning that the commission retains the option to refile the charges if Zimmerman’s health improves, or if he seeks judicial office again in the future. Public records indicate that Zimmerman is 72 years old. Zimmerman’s attorney, Josephine Townsend, has not provided any comments regarding the dismissal.

Zimmerman retired from the bench on June 30, 2021, following criticism and calls for his resignation. He had temporarily stepped away in mid-March 2021 after self-reporting his comments to the commission. In the hot mic discussion, Zimmerman referred to the deceased individual as “so dumb” and criticized the victim’s father for seeking financial compensation. The conversation took place in an empty courtroom, unbeknownst to Zimmerman, and was broadcast over social media due to live cameras and microphones.

The dismissal of the case against former Judge Darvin Zimmerman by the Washington Commission on Judicial Conduct highlights the importance of maintaining the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. While the commission found probable cause that Zimmerman had violated the Code of Judicial Conduct, concerns over his health led to the case being dismissed. The decision does not preclude the commission from refiling the charges if Zimmerman’s health improves or if he decides to seek judicial office again. The case serves as a reminder of the responsibility judges hold in upholding the principles of fairness and equality in the legal system.

 

Source: The Columbian