Orange County Judge, Former 'Attorney of the Year' Arrested for Killing Wife After She was Found Shot Dead at Their Home

Jeffrey Ferguson and his wife Sheryl Ferguson
Jeffrey Ferguson and his wife Sheryl Ferguson Facebook

A Southern California judge has been arrested on suspicion of killing his wife in the couple's home, authorities said Friday.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Ferguson was arrested late Thursday after police received reports of a shooting at the home and found the judge's wife, Sheryl Ferguson, shot inside, said Anaheim police Sgt. Jon McClintock.

She was pronounced dead at the scene in the upscale neighborhood of Anaheim Hills. The 72-year-old judge was arrested and taken to jail. He is being held on $1 million bail and is expected to appear in court in Santa Ana, California, on Monday. He has not yet been formally charged.

McClintock said one other person was at the home at the time but declined to comment on who the person was or whether they were among the callers who notified police of the shooting.

Ferguson Handled Criminal Cases, Previously Honored with 'Attorney of the Year' Award

Ferguson was elected as a judge in 2014 and took office in 2015. He handles criminal cases in a courthouse in the Orange County city of Fullerton. He started his legal career in the Orange County district attorney's office in 1983 and went on to work narcotics cases, for which he won various awards, according to the court.

During his time as a prosecutor, he was honored as an "attorney of the year" by the North Orange County Bar Association. He served as the organization's president from 2012 to 2014. He was previously married to another woman and they had a son. He and Sheryl Ferguson have another son together, said Juli Mitchell, the sister of his ex-wife.

Ferguson Previously Accused a District Attorney of Having Sex with Defense Lawyer

In 2017, Ferguson was admonished by the Commission on Judicial Performance for posting a statement on Facebook about a judicial candidate "with knowing or reckless disregard for the truth of the statement" and for being Facebook friends with attorneys appearing before him in court, according to a copy of the agency's findings.

According to the commission's order, then-Deputy District Attorney Karen Schatzle in 2016 was running for judicial office. Ferguson supported her opponent, Judge Scott Steiner, who two years earlier had been publicly censured for having sex with two women in his courthouse office.

Schatzle in April 2016 posted on the North Orange County Bar Association page that Steiner "uses his office for sex and yet so many aren't concerned, crazy politics!" Ferguson posted a response reading: "Karen Schatzle has sex with defense lawyer whike [sic] shw [sic] is DA on his cases and nobody cares. Interesting politics."