Judge candidate ‘victim’ of own stupidity, period
That is the question amid revelations that District Court Judge Wayne Pederson was the victim of extortion this summer after having sex in his Reno hotel room with a known drug user while attending courses at the National Judicial College.
We use the term “victim” loosely only because that is the official tagline given to Pederson in the incident reports filed by Reno police dispatched to investigate the judge’s claim that his lover, Irene Bailey, stole his wallet while he was showering and used it to pay off a drug debt.
If Pederson is a victim, he is a victim of his own stupidity and appalling poor judgment. He’s lucky that all he lost was $400 to the low-lifes who held his wallet for ransom and sold it back to him, one credit card and piece of ID at a time. He’s lucky that when he decided to take matters into his own hands he didn’t get rolled by the inhabitants of Reno’s dark underbelly.
It’s hard to think of Pederson as a “victim,” knowing that he had sex with a woman he represented on theft charges before he was appointed to the bench last spring, a woman he knew had twice been ordered by the court to enroll in a drug-rehabilitation program, and twice ran away without completing her treatment.
For a sitting judge to take a woman with this history of substance abuse out for drinks, followed by sex, suggests a wanton disregard for her health and well-being. He, of all people, should understand the precarious nature of Bailey’s health, but he chose instead to sacrifice her to his own selfish desires. He knew exactly what he was doing at the time, knew it was wrong, and did it anyway.
This sordid affair wasn’t merely a mistake on the judge’s part, or as Pederson put it, an “embarrassment.” It is a colossal lapse of judgment by a man who has been entrusted by the public to do just the opposite – make good judgments. He is, after all, a judge.
Also troubling is Pederson’s decision not to cooperate fully with the police by pressing charges against Bailey, which compromised their ability to prosecute the other parties in the case. Pederson asked that Bailey not be charged, rationalizing that she had had already suffered enough embarrassment.
Does this mean the next time a person accused of theft appears in Judge Pederson’s court he will let the individual off if he or she can convince him they’re sufficiently embarrassed?
For the citizens of Churchill and Lyon counties, who have a right to expect ethical representation on the bench, this might not come as such a heavy blow if it were not on the heels of another severe breach of public trust on the part of Justice of the Peace Dan Ward, who earlier this year admitted to 107 ethics violations before he was suspended by the Nevada Judicial Discipline Commission.
Between them, these two men have made a mockery of the judicial system and given the public good reason to doubt its honesty and integrity. If you can’t trust your judges, for heaven’s sake, whom can you trust?
Fortunately, voters still decide who gets the privilege of presiding over Nevada’s courts.
They took care of Judge Ward in the August primary by turning thumbs down on his re-election bid.
With the general election less than a month away, the day of reckoning for Judge Pederson is imminent.
– From the Lahontan Valley News