Judge admonishes for implying a man would be raped in prison

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The Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct has admonished a King County District Court judge for suggesting in court that a defendant would be raped in prison if he did not change his behavior.

The Seattle Times reports that Judge Virginia Amato, elected in November 2018, presided over the arraignment of a man charged with misdemeanor domestic violence and resisting arrest, pursuant to the commission’s executive director’s regulation, agreement and warning order signed June 24 , J. Reiko Callner.

Before imposing release terms, Amato determined the man’s alleged crimes occurred while he was on parole, the order said.

The man had no criminal record and could not be sent to prison on misdemeanor charges, but Amato is quoted in the order as saying he would set himself up as “Bubba’s new best friend in state prison.”

“Hopefully that gives you a vivid picture to think about … And if you think I’m kidding, I’m not,” she reportedly said.

A confidential complaint was filed in October with the commission responsible for reviewing and handling complaints of judicial misconduct, and Amato was served with an indictment in December, the order said.

Amato acknowledged that her statements to the defendant violated the code of conduct, but said her comments “while being insensitive and thoughtless were not motivated by bias or malice toward the defendant.”

The commission found that Amato violated rules that require judges to uphold the integrity of the judiciary by avoiding impropriety or the appearance of impropriety and by maintaining proper courtroom decorum.

The commission found that it was an isolated event that was atypical. A warning is the least severe disciplinary measure the commission can impose and is intended to warn a judge against engaging in certain prohibited conduct.

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