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Wanger & Westlands

It appears that the editorial boards can't find anything wrong with what he's doing, but they just don't like it.

Dec 06, 2011


Families Protecting The Valley Newsletter


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Denis Prosperi
Chester Andrew
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John "Dusty" Giacone
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Mark Watte
Kole Upton
Piedad Ayala
Tom Barcellos
Jim Walls

Wanger & Westlands

There's a lot of consternation about former federal judge Oliver Wanger going to work for Westlands Water District.  Newspapers up and down the state have editorialized about their concern that this just doesn't look good.  What's the problem?  Let's take a look at what the editorials say: 

From the San Francisco Chronicle:  "His switch from jurist to courtroom litigant doesn't appear to violate judicial rules."

From the Stockton Record:  "It's all legal, ethical even, according to some legal scholars."

From the Monterey County Herald:  "Wanger doesn't appear to be breaking the law because he had not ruled previously on this case."

From the Bakersfield Californian:  "He has every right to tap his vast and specific knowledge of California water laws and economics."

From the Fresno Bee, Sacramento Bee and Modesto Bee:  "Wanger does not appear to be in violation of ethics rules for ex-judges by agreeing to take this case as a lawyer."

So, you can see that all these editorials admit that there are no judicial rules problem, no legal problem and no ethical problem.  So, what exactly is the problem?  The problem is that all the above statements have a 'but' or 'still' or 'nonetheless' afterward...Again, from the same newspapers:

San Francisco Chronicle:  "But it's a disappointing mistake in judgment."

Stockton Record:  "Still, his work with Westlands does raise the specter of impropriety."

Monterey County Herald:  "But his representation of Westlands makes water experts wonder whose interests were on his mind..."

Bakersfield Californian:  "But did he have to sign on to represent the same water agency that had benefited from his favorable ruling..."

Fresno Bee,  Sacramento Bee, Modesto Bee:  "Nonetheless, his decision creates an appearance of impropriety."

We have no dog in this hunt and don't much care where Mr. Wanger chooses to work.  It appears that the editorial boards can't find anything wrong with what he's doing, but they just don't like it.  We can't help but wonder if they'd have the same problem if he went to work for the Sierra Club or the NRDC or the Environmental Defense Fund. 

San Francisco Chronicle:  Oliver Wanger, From Judge to Water Rights Litigant

Stockton Record:  Moving to the Other Side of the Stream

Monterey County Herald:  Westlands Water Judge Fraught With Conflict

Bakersfield Californian:  Judge Wanger's Leap Into Counsel's Seat Too Rapid

Fresno Bee:  Wanger/Westlands Questions Arise

Sacramento Bee:  By Working for Westlands, Wanger Puts Legacy in Doubt 

Modesto Bee:  Judge's New Job A Bad Move

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