Criminal court judge, 72, arrested in wife's shooting death

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Judge Jeffrey Ferguson mugshot

Orange County, California, Judge Jeffrey Ferguson, 72, was arrested shortly before 9 p.m. on Aug. 3 in the shooting death of his 65-year-old wife. Image from the Anaheim Police Department’s Aug. 4 press release.

A criminal court judge in Orange County, California, is free on a $1 million bond after his arrest in the shooting death of his 65-year-old wife.

Judge Jeffrey Ferguson, 72, was arrested shortly before 9 p.m. on Aug. 3, report the Los Angeles Times, Law360, Courthouse News Service, USA Today, the Associated Press and Law & Crime.

Ferguson was arrested for murder outside his home in Anaheim Hills, California, according to an Anaheim Police Department press release. His wife, 65-year-old Sheryl Ferguson, was dead from a gunshot wound inside the home.

As of Saturday night, however, Ferguson had not yet been formally charged with murder, the New York Times reported.

A neighbor told the Los Angeles Times that she heard a male voice yell, “Don’t shoot me.” Later, a different neighbor spotted one of Ferguson’s sons, Phillip, sitting on the sidewalk opposite his father.

Law enforcement forces who spoke with the Los Angeles Times on the condition of anonymity said an adult son inside the home had called 911 and had tried to perform CPR on his mother.

Ferguson had one son with his ex-wife and one son with Sheryl Ferguson, whom he married in 1996, the Associated Press reported.

Neighbors said they were shocked by the shooting.

Ferguson, whose courtroom is in Fullerton, California, was elected in 2014 and took the bench in 2015. He was admitted to law practice in 1982 after graduating from the Western State College of Law. Before becoming a judge, Ferguson was a deputy district attorney.

Ferguson was publicly admonished in 2017 for a Facebook post about a judicial candidate and for failing to disclose that he was Facebook friends with three criminal defense lawyers who appeared regularly before him.

Ferguson’s Facebook post accused a judicial candidate of having sex with a defense lawyer when she was a prosecutor on his cases. He made the comment on the North Orange County Bar Association’s Facebook page after the candidate said her rival “uses his office for sex and yet so many aren’t concerned, crazy politics!”

Ferguson supported the rival, who was publicly censured in 2014 partly for sexual activity in the courthouse.

Ferguson removed the post after the judicial candidate responded. He unfriended the criminal defense lawyers after he was contacted by the California Commission on Judicial Performance.

The commission said Ferguson’s Facebook post about the judicial candidate “was made with knowing or reckless disregard for the truth.”

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