Judge Michael Williams

Napa County Superior Court Judge Michael Williams is stepping down after being censured for the state Commission for Judicial Performance for stealing two business card holders.

J.L. Sousa/Register file photo

SAN FRANCISCO — A Napa County judge is losing his job after swiping two Art Deco-style business card holders from a judges’ dinner in San Francisco.

The Commission on Judicial Performances announced Monday its censure of Judge Michael S. Williams of Napa County. Williams also agreed to resign effective in December.

Williams was attending a dinner hosted by a matrimonial lawyers association in March 2016 when he took two cardholders in the Art Deco decor of The City Club of San Francisco. They were each worth about $30 to $50.

The commission says Williams, 70, returned the cardholders after being informed that he was caught on video.

The judge expressed remorse and said he had an “unexplainable impulse” to take the cardholders.

A lawyer for Williams did not return a request for a comment.

After being told that he’d been caught on video, Williams sent a package containing the cardholders and an apology letter to The City Club on March 29, according to the Commission’s Notice of Formal Proceedings.

In the letter, Williams said he had consumed a couple glasses of wine and did not know what he was doing. On March 30, Williams sent the Commission on Judicial Performance a letter stating he acted on an “unexplained impulse,” according to the CJP’s notice.

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Williams later wrote the CJP and stated he took the cardholders to display them as “joke business cards” that he and a friend had printed 40 years earlier and that Williams had recently found, according to the Notice of Formal Proceedings.

Contacted by the Register in mid-June, Williams responded in an email. “My response is the same as I provided to the Commission. I am deeply disappointed in myself and I am profoundly embarrassed,” he wrote.

Williams, a former courts commissioner, was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to Napa County Superior Court in 2012. He ran unopposed for re-election in 2014. His term expires in 2021. He currently is Supervising Judge in Family Court.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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