Legal Ethics

Judge Talks Himself into Trouble

A routine training session led to another, in-depth program for a Washington state judge censured for his “demeaning, offensive and shocking” behavior at a Los Angeles conference last summer.

Judge John Wulle, 57, who sits in Clark County Superior Court, made a number of ill-advised comments at the training program, reports the Columbian, a local newspaper.

Among them, according to a censure order by the Commission on Judicial Conduct, he swore, made an obscene gesture, and referred to a facilitator as “the black gay guy.” He also, the panel found, replied at one point to the facilitator’s comment “Clark County gets a star” for assignment completion with the comeback “I don’t need a star. I’m not a Jew.”

The panel was not amused by this repartee, and ordered Wulle to take 10 hours of judicial ethics training and seven hours of diversity training focused on tolerance for racial, religious, sexual orientation differences.

The county also assigned another judge to preside over its fledgling juvenile drug court (establishing one was the topic of the L.A. conference).

“Several witnesses said Wulle smelled of alcohol,” the newspaper reports, but he denied drinking at the program. According to the censure order, “He recalls suffering from a cold and taking cough syrup and suggests the odor from the cough syrup may have been misconstrued as an odor of alcohol.”

The panel ordered Wulle, a former prosecutor who has been a judge for more than a decade, to get a drug and alcohol evaluation.

The judge says he considered the matter a learning experience. “It was never my intent to offend anyone, and I apologize to anyone who was offended,” he tells the Columbian.

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