A Kern County judge has been publicly admonished by a state panel for improper conduct including telling a court officer he and other judges "would get together and fire" the court executive officer for moving courtroom clerks around.
The Commission on Judicial Performance's report Thursday ordered Judge John L. Fielder be admonished for that incident and for abusing his authority by calling an attorney into his chambers and suggesting paperwork not be filed as the attorney had prepared it.
The commission also took into consideration three other incidents where Fielder was disciplined in making its decision.
The report says on April 3, 2013, Fielder and Judge Cory Woodward met with Deputy Chief Court Executive Officer for Court Operations Marie Castaneda in connection with court administration's decision to reassign Woodward's clerk. Fielder accused administration of violating court protocol for moving a clerk from a judge's courtroom.
He told Castaneda the judges would have Court Executive Officer Terry McNally fired, the report says.
Fielder acknowledged he was "unnecessarily forceful" in his statements and his conduct was inappropriate, according to the report. He also said it was "out of line" to make a statement to an administrative officer about firing that person's supervising administrator.
Fielder had also told Castaneda there was "no significant or valid reason" to move Woodward's clerk.
Woodward was censured by the commission in September for having a lengthy affair with his court clerk, misleading his bosses about the relationship and fighting to keep her in his courtroom when administrators tried to move her. The censure stopped just short of stripping Woodward of his office.
In another incident, an attorney presented Fielder an application for a temporary stay of enforcement on his client's behalf because the case was being handled by Woodward. Due to what were then allegations regarding Woodward's inappropriate behavior, the attorney in his filing questioned Woodward's ability to hear the case.
The report says Fielder reviewed the filing and called the attorney into his chambers. He told the attorney to tone down the comments regarding Woodward and said he believed references to Woodward's family were "mean-spirited and unnecessary."
Fielder told the commission he didn't think he told the attorney he would not allow the documents to be filed as they were, the report says. Nevertheless, the attorney made changes to the documents under the belief they needed to be modified before Fielder would allow them to be submitted.
Fielder acknowledged the attorney might have taken his statements as meaning the documents wouldn't be filed unless changed.
The judge has been disciplined three prior times in his 33 years at Kern County Superior Court.