After Orange County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Ferguson was arrested and booked for allegedly murdering his wife with a gun, he was released on a $1 million bond. But when his case will be tried is currently unknown because the Anaheim Police Department has yet to transfer the records.
*Update August 11, 2023: The California Attorney General’s Office has determined that the Orange County DA’s office does not have a conflict of interest and will proceed to prosecute Jeffrey Ferguson. Charges have not yet been filed.
“This case has not yet been filed with our court,” said Kostas Kalaitzidis, public information officer with Orange County Superior Court. “When it does get filed, we will take all the appropriate measures and steps to be in full compliance with both the legal and ethical obligations of the court.”
On Thursday, August 3, 2023, just after 8 p.m., the Anaheim Police Communications Center received reports of a shooting. Upon the officers’ arrival, they found 65-year-old Sheryl Ferguson suffering from at least one gunshot wound. She was pronounced deceased at the scene.
Ferguson lived with his wife on the 8500 block of E. Canyon Vista Drive in Anaheim Hills. The embattled judge previously worked at the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
“This is a tragedy,” said Kalaitzidis. “Our thoughts go out to the family. We do pray for their comfort at this time.”
As a judge, Ferguson is an elected official, which poses special challenges. For example, under state law, a convicted felon can still run for elected office.
“In past circumstance, when a conflict of interest arose, cases were transferred to neighboring courts,” Kalaitzidis said in an interview with OrangeCountyLawyers.com. “This decision is the responsibility of the presiding judge to dispose of.”
Jefferson worked for the Orange County District Attorney’s Office from 1983 until he was elected judge in 2015, according to media reports. But that isn’t preventing the Orange County District Attorney’s Office from prosecuting the case.
“The California Attorney General’s Office has determined that the Orange County District Attorney’s Office does not have a conflict and will prosecute this case,” said Kimberly Edds, Orange County District Attorney’s Office director of public affairs.
It has been widely reported that Ferguson’s current case load will likely be reassigned to other judges on the Orange County Superior Court bench.
“The Orange County Superior Court presiding judge is ultimately responsible for determining conflicts of interest in all matters that are submitted to the Orange County Superior Court,” Kalaitzidis said.
The presiding judge is Maria Hernandez who began a two year term in January. However, Hernandez has limitations on her authority because she is also an elected official.
“A judge is not an employee of the court,” Kalaitzidis added.
Ferguson’s file has not yet been transferred to the Orange County District Attorney’s office because he is out on bail.
“Typically, if he was in custody right now, we’d have certain timelines that we would have to meet for arraignment and filing,” said Sergeant Jon McClintock, public information officer for the Anaheim Police Department. “Because he’s out, we have additional time to submit the case, and when the case is ready to be submitted to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, we will do that.”
Juliette Fairley covers legal topics for various publications including the Southern California Record, the Epoch Times and Pacer Monitor-News. Prior to discovering she had an ease and facility for law, Juliette lived in Orange County and Los Angeles where she pursued acting in television and film.