Prosecutors: No charges against ex-Fresno Federal judge over domestic violence arrest

Oliver Wanger, a former Federal judge, was arrested by Fresno Police in December over a domestic disturbance.

Oliver Wanger, one of Fresno’s preeminent lawyers and a retired U.S. District Court judge, will not face criminal charges stemming from a December arrest centering on domestic violence.

Prosecutors in Tulare County, taking up the case from the Fresno County DA’s Office, announced they would not file charges against Wanger, 82.


The big picture: Wanger was the founder of Fresno’s sole law school, San Joaquin College of Law and built up a lengthy resume on the bench at Fresno County Superior Court before his appointment to the Fresno-based U.S. District Court for the Eastern District by President George H.W. Bush in 1991.

  • Wanger built an outsized reputation on the Federal bench as he waded through complicated litigation at the center of California’s water wars determining the flow of water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the San Joaquin Valley and southern California.
  • Five years after taking senior status on the Federal bench, Wanger left his post and went into private practice, launching Fresno-based Wanger Jones Helsley PC.

State of play: The handling of Wanger’s Dec. 17 arrest in Fresno was turned over to Tulare County DA Tim Ward.

  • Prosecutors cited a lack of sufficient, admissible corroborating evidence to support a charge.
  • Tulare County prosecutors received a letter from Wanger’s criminal attorney, Mark Coleman, indicating that the victim in the incident “wishes in this matter which were to not move forward with this investigation, to have no further contact from police or prosecutors” and preemptively notified prosecutors of her refusal to testify.
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