On Tuesday, August 15, 2023, Honorable William Cobb, a part-time Probate Judge in the Vermont Superior Court, Caledonia Unit, Probate Division, responded to a petition before the State of Vermont Judicial Conduct Board. The petition had raised concerns about Cobb’s misconduct that involves misleading the Disciplinary Counsel.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of William Cobb” with case no. 22.040.

On April 26, 2023, charges were brought against Cobb by the State of Vermont Judicial Conduct Board for his attempt to mislead the Disciplinary Counsel. Subsequently, the Vermont Professional Responsibility Board rendered a written verdict, determining that while serving as an attorney in private practice, Cobb breached five regulations outlined in the Vermont Rules of Professional Conduct. In its decision dated May 24, 2022, the PRB specifically ascertained that Cobb had transgressed these rules by intentionally trying to deceive the Disciplinary Counsel. This conduct deviated from cooperating with the investigation and instead entailed furnishing misleading and inaccurate information regarding his billing practices.

The report 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.”

In a recent development,  Cobb responded to the petition filed by the Vermont Judicial Conduct Board, acknowledging and admitting several key elements of the case. Cobb’s answer, submitted on August 15, 2023, began by affirming the factual basis of the case as presented in paragraphs 1 to 10 of the petition. This included acknowledging the jurisdiction and procedural history of the matter.

Cobb also acknowledged the contents of Canon 1.2 and recognized the categorization of the Vermont Rules of Professional Conduct as “court rules” under Canon 1.2. He further accepted that certain alleged conduct qualified as “improprieties” within the framework of the Vermont Code of Judicial Conduct. Additionally, Cobb admitted to the provisions outlined in Canon 2.16. Notably, he acknowledged his violation of Rule 8.4(c) of the Vermont Rules of Professional Conduct – a violation previously affirmed by the Vermont Professional Responsibility Board and upheld by the Vermont Supreme Court. This admission underscored his breach of the Vermont Code of Judicial Conduct.

Cobb’s response reflected his acknowledgment of responsibility for the misconduct outlined by the Judicial Conduct Board. The unfolding proceedings were closely watched, as they shed light on the complexities of maintaining ethical standards within the realm of judicial conduct.

Judge Cobb’s courtroom is located at 1126 Main 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.