ST. LOUIS — Circuit Court Judge Tony Williams has declined to appeal a state
commission’s ruling that states he acted improperly during a case brought before him
in 2012 as an associate district judge.
Williams was elected last year for
Missouri’s 46th District.
The Missouri Supreme Court's Commission on Retirement,
Removal and Discipline of Judges is recommending that Williams face a 30-day
suspension from his judgeship without pay.
“The Commission has found serious violations of the Code of
Judicial Conduct indicating a failure of (Williams) to perform his judicial
duties impartially and competently in regard to his handling of the
guardianship estate of complainant Barbara Hildebrand," the commission said in its decision.
The case that Williams heard was about who would represent
Hildebrand's estate after she was legally ruled unable to represent herself due to her declining health.
The commission’s four-page report lays out seven counts
against Williams, all of them stemming from the Hildebrand case and based on
violations of Supreme Court rules.
Williams prohibited members of the public from entering the courtroom, according to the report.
In addition, Williams appointed a guardian and conservator in
the case without requiring notification to the person who holds a power of attorney.
The report also says that Williams “failed to rule” on a motion to
intervene filed by one of the lawsuit’s participants.
He also issued an order granting the
public administrator/guardian authority to amend the distribution section of
the trust that “disinherited” beneficiaries of the trust and granted the
public administrator/guardian’s motion alleging undue influence of Hildebrand’s
amendments. As a result, the reinstatement of the named beneficiaries was authorized.
The commission said Williams granted that order despite a
lack of evidence that the beneficiaries had a relationship or any kind of influence over Hildebrand. It also said that the order was granted without
proper medical or attorney testimony or the testimony of Hildebrand, as well
as without communicating the order to attorneys.
“(The order) was based solely on the hearsay testimony of the
public administrator/guardian as to what Hildebrand told her she wanted done
with her estate at a time when Hildebrand had been found to be incompetent,”
according to the commission’s report.
The report also found that Williams denied the administrator’s motion to
intervene and ordered her and her attorney to leave the courtroom. He granted the public administrator's request to change the guardianship from full to limited for medical purposes.
According to the commission, this was done without the necessary medical testimony or the testimony of Hildebrand, without attorney notice and
based on hearsay testimony from the administrator/guardian.
Also, Williams made statements during the
question of a motion to intervene that run counter to Supreme Court rules,
including one in which he said some of the case’s participants “would be arrested or
found in contempt if they communicated with Hildebrand," according to the report.
Lastly, motion to intervene was granted although “the parties were not properly notified of the court’s ruling allowing
The commission said Williams cooperated and was truthful
during its investigation. The Supreme Court has final approval of the commission’s disciplinary action.