SANTA ANA — A Southern California judge was 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 was held on $1 million bail in Santa Ana and released Friday after posting bond, according to online jail records. He has not been formally charged.
McClintock said one other person was at the home at the time but declined to say who the person was or whether they were among the callers who notified police of the shooting.
Telephone and email messages seeking comment were left for Ferguson’s attorney, Paul S. Meyer.
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.
“This is a very tragic situation for all involved,” Lorrie A. Walton, a current member of the association’s board, said in an email.
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.
Ferguson said on his Facebook page that he grew up in a military family and traveled throughout Asia as a child. He went on to attend college and law school in California. He and his wife were married in 1996.
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.
On Friday, the Orange County Superior Court declined to provide additional information about the allegations.
“Although no case has been filed with our Court, when appropriate we will take all necessary steps to ensure full compliance with our legal and ethical obligations,” Orange County Superior Court Presiding Judge Maria Hernandez said in a statement.