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Former Butte County Judge Admonished For Rude Behavior In Court Hearings

OROVILLE, Calif. (AP/CBS13) — A former Butte County judge was publicly reprimanded Thursday for being harsh and rude to parents, social workers and attorneys in her courtroom during dependency hearings in 2019 and 2020.

Judge Barbara L. Roberts, who retired from the Butte County Superior Court in October after 22 years on the bench, also yelled at court staff and another judge, the Commission on Judicial Performance, a state watchdog group, said in a statement.

In one instance in 2019, Roberts rolled her eyes, shook her head and argued with a couple who were expressing concern their mentally ill child could end up in an out-of-state placement. In another hearing in 2020, she expressed dismay at a father's failure to appear in court and told the parties that she wanted the father to "face the music."

Roberts said that she used a "tough love" approach in dependency cases to compel parents to realize the harm they were causing their children and to change their behavior.

But the commission said in its public admonishment that "belittling and demeaning litigants is not appropriate in any court" and violates the Code of Judicial Ethics.

Roberts acknowledged her mistreatment of staff, her misconduct in the courthouse, and her discourtesy to the assistant presiding judge. She said she sincerely regrets her lack of composure on Jan. 8 and Jan. 9, 2020, and recognizes that her behavior was not appropriate, the commission said.

Roberts served as the presiding judge of Butte County's juvenile court from 2001 to 2005 and again between 2016 and 2020.

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