Another side of the Mallery story: Commission on Judicial Performance cites his ‘lack of self-conscious awareness’

A large crowd of family, friends and supporters gathered in the Lassen County Hall of Justice Jan. 7, 2013, to see Judge Tony Mallery take the oath of office. Mallery’s issues reportedly began that very day as court staff alleged he had already been sworn in when he signed a form at the Lassen County Clerk’s Office. Judge Michele Verderosa allegedly arrived as the common ceremonial event 45 minutes late. According to the commission’s report. “It cannot be understated how significant this event was. This evidence shows Judge Verderosa had no respect for Judge Mallery and that (she) was willing to humiliate him at the precipice outset of his judicial career. Over time, she continued to show disdain for Judge Mallery and infected much of the staff with the same disdain.”

On Dec. 19, the California Commission on Judicial Performance completed and released a 189-page report entitled “Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law of the Special Masters” in the Inquiry Concerning Judge Tony Mallery.

Lassen News published a story regarding mitigating factors in the case Jan. 4. (Click here to see that story.

The document, prepared by special masters investigating 21 allegations against Mallery, will be presented to the commission for a final determination in March.

Here is some more information from that report in which the masters place blame on Mallery’s own actions in the matter.

Lassen County Superior Court Judge Tony Mallery.

The masters note Mallery failed to take responsibility for his own conduct
According to the report, “Judge Mallery blames much of his misconduct on the treatment he claims to have received from former Presiding Judge Michele Verderosa and former CEO Andi Ashby. Judge Verderosa’s last day at the court was June 2, 2017. Barone went out on leave even before then, and never returned to the court … all of Judge Mallery’s alleged misconduct took place after Judge Verderosa and Barone had left the court, and almost all of it took place when Judge Mallery was the presiding judge and his allies (Christopher Vose and Kim Gallagher) were in charge of the court staff …

“Other problems at the court, including possibly in part his poor treatment by court staff, were at least in part the result of Judge Mallery’s own failings. Beginning almost immediately after he was elected and took the bench, and throughout his time on the bench, Judge Mallery did not follow the calendar manifest, even when he was a presiding judge and created the calendar manifest himself. When Judge Mallery set cases on different days and different times than were reflected in the calendar manifest, it became difficult to provide clerks and court reporters for the cases that were set. When (court staff) tried to explain to Judge Mallery how the calendars worked, that they only had one court reporter, and that when matters were set during times that other matters were set, it was inefficient for the court, the judge told her that he needed to have his matters heard and that he would set them as he chose.

“The judge continued to set matters as he chose, and his practice continued to disrupt the operations of the court. Judge Mallery also did not attend most meetings with the court managers and, when he did, he ‘acted agitated the entire time or, at one meeting in about 2021 or 2022, seemed detached and stared out the window.’

“Judge Mallery often behaved imperiously with attorneys, such as when he told the criminal law attorneys who practiced in LSC that he intended, in essence, to eliminate plea bargaining and become the sole arbiter of sentencing decisions without input from counsel. Yet, he was angry when those same attorneys began to challenge him for cause and (he was) unable to see that his own lack of understanding their role in the criminal justice system and his sudden and unilateral decision to change the system were likely at the root of their decisions to challenge him. Similarly, his anger at (attorney Lessa) Webster for seeking to disqualify him was misplaced in view of his imperious mistreatment of her when she was unable to appear in person because of another judge’s insistence that she remain too late in his county and courthouse.

“Finally, while Judge Mallery developed some strong mentoring relationships with other judges, he does not appear to have sought their advice regarding his own conduct except insofar as he was responding to the mistreatment he felt (to some degree accurately) he was being subjected to by the staff and other judges on his court.”

Judge Mallery “now appreciates that some of his comments should not have been made, and he regrets them,” but he insists that ‘[n]one of them … arise [sic] to the level of judicial or willful misconduct.’ He concludes that he ‘was driven from the courthouse by a barrage of provably false allegations and his life became a living hell.’ In blaming all of his conduct on others and failing to recognize any of his own serious ethical lapses, Judge Mallery misses that at least some of his own conduct was beyond unacceptable. In particular, that is true of his retaliation against those who challenged him under the disqualification statutes and those who cooperated with the commission.

“He does not seem able to appreciate the fact that the conduct that led to those charges was within his control, and that no matter how upset or angry he was that others reported it, or the commission discovered it, at base responsibility for that conduct lies with him.

“In short, Judge Mallery’s lack of self-conscious awareness of his own role and responsibility both for the conflicts that arose between himself and court staff or counsel and for the serious misconduct he committed, is an aggravating factor that may pertain to the matter of discipline.”