Wait on the pitchforks and torches — let’s reserve judgment until we hear the judge’s side

Gee, I sure have mixed feelings about the allegations leveled this week by the Commission of Judicial Performance against Lassen County Superior Court Judge Tony Mallery, and I’m guessing there are a lot of other folks in town who feel the same. I wouldn’t say the judge and I are friends, but in all our encounters he struck me as smart, sincere and respectful. Obviously, we never discussed any court cases or decisions, but I have the sense he’s determined he has the right to run his courtroom in a manner he sees as both appropriate and legal no matter what anyone else thinks. I can easily see how this approach might ruffle some feathers among the courthouse staff.

On the other hand, I know some of the folks who shared concerns about the judge with the CJP, and I find them to be dedicated, honest and honorable public servants whom I’ve believe are absolutely, positively and completely credible.

I also believe in the rule of law (although I’m still mighty steamed about the recent CCC ruling), and I’m confident this matter will resolve itself as it should. I pray, as always, that justice will be served in this inquiry and in its eventual aftermath, whatever that might be.

I should tell you I take no joy in writing stories like the one on Mallery that appeared on the Lassen News website yesterday. I never rejoice at another’s misfortune. The news is the news, and no respectable local journalist could ignore this story and still hold his head high in our community. We should remember all we have heard so far is much like an indictment in a criminal case — these are allegations that may or may not be supported by the facts as the investigation moves forward.

But mostly importantly, we have yet to hear Mallery’s response to these allegations. Much as the defendant and the prosecution present their cases side-by-side in court for the jury to decide, we haven’t heard all of that yet. All we have so far are the allegations. Sure, I’ve seen the comments from some on social media sites who celebrate Mallery’s troubles and seem more than happy to believe this is their opportunity to finally collect their justly deserved pound of flesh. Fair enough. Comes with the elected official territory. But I hope as we all contemplate the seriousness of these allegations, we also recognize we’ve only heard one side of the story.  I don’t know about you, but I want to hear how the judge responds to all this before I make up my mind. That’s only fair.

Sit tight. We have to wait about three weeks for the rest of this story.