A Wisconsin judge received a seven-day suspension for pulling out his gun in his courtroom, Law & Crime reported.
Winnebago County Circuit Judge Scott C. Woldt pulled a gun in front of a cognitively impaired defendant in June 2015, according to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
He also showed off his weapon during a “Government Day” event with high school students.
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A Wisconsin county judge was handed a weeklong suspension without pay this week by the state Supreme Court for pulling his gun out during the sentencing of a cognitively impaired defendant six years ago, according to the legal news outlet Law & Crime.
Winnebago County Circuit Judge Scott C. Woldt received the suspension related to a 2015 incident in his courtroom. In June that year, Woldt took out his weapon during a sentencing hearing for a cognitively impaired defendant who pleaded guilty to a stalking charge, according to the report.
The Wisconsin Judicial Commission filed a complaint about Woldt’s behavior in June 2020.
A request for comment from Woldt’s judicial office was not immediately returned Saturday.
At the 2015 hearing, one of the defendant’s victims testified that the defendant’s actions “undermined the family’s sense of safety in their home,” according to a summary of the hearing in the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s ruling.
Then, Woldt offered lengthy sympathetic comments, talking about his own security concerns and sense of safety.
“I understand the fear of the victims in this case,” he said, according to court documents.
Woldt during the hearing said he’d asked for strict security measures at the county courthouse but said his efforts had been unsuccessful.
“I have tried the County Board, I have tried everything to get people to do something to keep guns out of this courthouse, and nothing happens, so you know, you got to protect yourself,” he said. “I can tell you what I do now.
“This is what I do,” he added, pulling out his handgun, according to the document. The gun was not loaded at the time but those in his courtroom did not know that, according to the court’s opinion.
Woldt told the victim that he’d have shot and killed the defendant had he entered his home.
The Supreme Court found that Woldt had “essentially threatened a young defendant with cognitive impairments” in addition to pulling out his weapon, constituting “a failure to observe ‘high standards of conduct,” according to the opinion.
On another occasion, Woldt also brandished his weapon as a “prop” during a “Government Day” event with high school students, according to the state Supreme Court. No one had asked him about his weapon, according to the court’s opinion.
There were another four incidents noted by the court, including Woldt’s use of profanity, his comments toward a 13-year-old victim of sexual assault, and his berating of two criminal defendants, Law & Crime first reported.
“Having considered all of the facts of this proceeding, including all of the appropriate aggravating and mitigating factors, we conclude that a short suspension is necessary in this situation to assure the members of the public that judges will treat them with dignity, fairness, and respect when they enter the courtrooms of this state, and to impress upon Judge Woldt the seriousness of his misconduct and the need for him to change how he treats the jurors, lawyers, litigants, witnesses, victims, and staff with whom he interacts,” the court wrote in its majority opinion.
The suspension will begin on August 2, according to the Supreme Court’s decision. Woldt has been a Winnebago County judge since 2004. Two justices on the court authorized a partial dissent, while two others did not participate in the proceedings.
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