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Judge keeps O.C. elected official locked out of office for now

January 30, 2012 |  3:14 pm

WilliamsOrange County’s locked-out public administrator failed Monday to win a court order that would allow him to get back into his Civic Center offices, setting a legal showdown on whether county leaders have the right to bounce an elected official.

John Williams, who was criticized in two grand jury reports for"egregious" mismanagement, questionable promotions and other serious shortcomings, had been stripped of most of his duties and had agreed to step down Jan. 23.

But the date came and went, and Williams continued to show up for work. That is, until the county changed the locks to his office.

On Monday, the Voice of OC reported, Superior Court Judge William Monroe rejected Williams' request for a temporary restraining order that would have forced the county to unlock his offices. Instead, Monroe set a March 13 hearing.

Last year, Williams was stripped of most of his official duties, which were farmed out to other workers appointed by the county. Among the public administrator's duties is to oversee the estates of people who die without heirs and those of indigent people.

Williams was reelected in 2010 by a comfortable margin.

Attorneys for the county argued that Williams gave up his job in a letter of resignation last March, after getting pummeled — twice — by the grand jury. In exchange for his promise to step down, county supervisors agreed he could hang onto his $153,000-a-year job until Jan. 23 and that they would not release a highly critical report the county had prepared on his performance.

But at some point, the embattled politician’s attorney said, Willliams changed his mind.


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 --Steve Marble

Photo: John Williams. Credit: Los Angeles Times