On Wednesday, April 26, 2023, the State of Vermont Judicial Conduct Board filed charges against William Cobb, a part-time Probate Judge in the Vermont Superior Court, Caledonia Unit, Probate Division, for attempting to mislead the Disciplinary Counsel.

The case was brought by the Judicial Conduct Board with case no. 22.040.

The charges cited Vermont Code of Judicial Conduct 1.2 and 2.16, which states:

A judge shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.

A Judge shall cooperate and be candid and honest with judicial and lawyer disciplinary agencies.

On May 24, 2022, the Vermont Professional Responsibility Board issued a written decision finding the respondent, while acting solely as an attorney in private practice, had violated five rules of the Vermont Rules of Professional Conduct. In the PRB’s May 24, 2022 decision, it concluded with particularity that the respondent violated Rule 8.4(c) of the Vermont Rules of Professional Conduct because he intentionally attempted to mislead Disciplinary Counsel instead of cooperating with his investigation by providing misleading and inaccurate information regarding his billing practices.

On June 1, 2022, the Vermont Supreme Court concluded the PRB’s decision and stated that the latter provided sufficient grounds to temporarily suspend the respondent from his role as Probate Judge. In response, the judge answered that he will take no position in the said matter.

The Formal Complaint states:

“Acting through counsel, Judge Cobb filed a brief with the Vermont Supreme Court advising he “would not take a position in opposition to the Hearing Panel’s [May 24, 2022] Decision”. Further, Judge Cobb attached a letter containing the following proclamation: I take responsibility for the misconduct the Board found I engaged to the extent the Court requests argument, I rely on what has already been submitted [to the PRB] and incorporate those arguments by reference. However, it is far more positive for me to look ahead than to look behind, and I respecttülly rely on the Vermont Supreme Court’s discretion as it relates to this matter in its entirety.”

The Formal Complaint continues:

“Judge Cobb was interviewed by the JCR’s special counsel on November 29, 2022. During this interview, Judge Cobb agreed there were no factual disputes regarding his conduct that formed the basis of the PRB’s findings and the Vermont Supreme Court’s decisions.”

Along with the formal complaint against the respondent is a waiver of service of summons wherein the latter mentioned that he received a copy of the same and the formal complaint. He also stated that he understand that within 60 days from the receipt of the said waiver, he must provide the court with a written response as required by the Vermont Rules of Procedures.

In relation to the aforementioned matter, the Judicial Conduct Board alleges that Judge Cobb’s conduct establishes violations of the abovementioned Code of Judicial Conduct.

Judge Cobb’s courtroom is located at 1126 Main St, St Johnsbury, VT 05819, and can be reached at +1 802-748-6600. His info can be found on ballotpedia.org.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.