On December 15, 2023, the Judicial Conduct Board approved a stipulated sanction with former Vermont Probate Judge William Cobb that will prevent him from serving as a judicial officer in the state in the future.

The stipulation, agreed upon by both Cobb and the JCB and signed on September 19, 2023, stated that Cobb “may never again serve as a judicial officer in the State of Vermont” and that the board could enter an order to that effect. The JCB Chair Barbara R. Blackman signed off on the stipulation on December 15, officially approving it.

This order comes after a series of proceedings against Cobb for ethical violations that took place while he was an attorney in private practice prior to becoming a probate judge. In April 2023, the Judicial Conduct Board filed formal charges against Cobb for attempting to mislead the Disciplinary Counsel during their investigation into his billing practices.

The Vermont Professional Responsibility Board had rendered a verdict in May 2022 determining that Cobb violated five regulations of the Vermont Rules of Professional Conduct during this time by intentionally providing misleading information to the Disciplinary Counsel. The PRB found that this conduct deviated from cooperating with the investigation.

In August 2023, Cobb responded to the petition from the Judicial Conduct Board regarding these charges. In his answer, Cobb acknowledged the factual basis and jurisdiction of the case. He also admitted to violating Rule 8.4(c) of the Vermont Rules of Professional Conduct, which prohibits conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation. This violation had previously been affirmed by both the PRB and Vermont Supreme Court.

Cobb’s response reflected his acknowledgment of responsibility for the misconduct outlined in the petition. However, the stipulation now bans him from future judicial service, bringing the case to a resolution without the need for a full disciplinary hearing.

With this stipulation, Cobb will be unable to serve in a judicial capacity again in Vermont going forward. The order prevents him from holding a similar position of public trust after his violations of the professional conduct rules several years ago. It provides a clear consequence for Cobb’s past actions.

Judge William Cobb served as a Probate Judge in the Vermont Superior Court, Caledonia Unit, Probate Division from February 2019 through June 1, 2022. He served on a part-time basis.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.