Former U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of California Oliver Wanger was released on bail on Tuesday over domestic violence allegations following an arrest in Fresno during the weekend.
A graduate of USC and UC Berkeley, Wanger served as a Deputy District Attorney of Fresno in the late 60’s before becoming a law Professor. From 1975 to 1980, Wanger was then a City Attorney in Mendota. Following a return to law and academia for several years, Wanger next became a Superior Court Judge for Fresno County in 1988. Three years later, in 1991,Wanger was elevated to being a U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of California by then-President George H.W. Bush.
Wanger subsequently served as a District Judge for the next 20 years, becoming the Senior Judge of the court in 2006. Towards the end of his career in the late 2000’s and early 2010’s, Judge Wanger was noted for his rulings on the California water system and the Delta water pump allowance, in which he was known for heavily questioning those taking strong environmental positions.
Since retiring in 2011, Wanger had been mostly quiet while staying peripherally in the law through a law group in Fresno, being utilized as, amongst other positions, an arbiter. However, on Saturday, Wanger was arrested at his Fresno home over an alleged domestic violence. While further details on the allegations have yet to be released, it is known that Wanger posted bail and has maintained his innocence.
On Tuesday, his attorney Peter Kapetan released a statement saying, “I have known Oliver Wanger for over 30 years both professionally and personally. He is a pillar of the community and an icon of the legal profession. As a former federal judge for the United States District Court, he was thoroughly vetted by the FBI and has an impeccable record. Throughout his 82 years, Mr. Wanger has donated his expertise for the benefit of this community and has given countless hours to local charitable concerns.”
“It is unfortunate that he has had this allegation leveled against him. There are two sides to this allegation and, as his attorney, I remain hopeful that an objective review of the facts will mandate that no charges be filed. However, if charges are filed, Mr. Wanger will vigorously defend himself and we expect total vindication.”
Legal experts noted on Tuesday that while judges have been charged with serious offenses in the past, Wanger’s allegations don’t seem to fit the mold.
“Usually in cases where a Judge or other notable person is charged with something or something similar, we see details come out quickly,” legal advisor Janet Kuhl explained to the Globe Tuesday. “But we aren’t seeing that here. We still have a few months to see what comes out, but the fact that he got out so fast and that he and his legal team are this ready to fight any possible charges, well, we can’t speculate, but they are very confident and prepared for whatever comes next.”
Following being released on bail this week, Wanger is expected to next be in court for his arraignment on March 2nd.
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