Best Judge - 2011
William R. Froeberg
Despite what we might have implied in the past, Orange County Superior Court Judge William R. Froeberg was not the inspiration for Montgomery Burns, the villainous Springfield Nuclear Power Plant owner on The Simpsons. But, come on, they do look remarkably alike! Froeberg, however, isn't in the profit business. His task is to efficiently and fairly run some of OC's most complicated criminal trials, and while he isn't as cold as some of his colleagues, he's not particularly endearing either. Perhaps he is unfairly hampered by that seemingly permanent scowl. But in one of this year's most sensational murder trials, the one involving ex-NFL linebacker Eric Naposki, Froeberg provided seasoned management from his perch. He didn't hamper prosecutors while he gave in to some of Naposki's ultimately unsuccessful defense demands, probably to avoid any appellate errors. He treated all the parties with respect. He ran the trial on time. He even made jurors' lives easier with occasional, much-needed funny quips when the lawyers got too heated—a touch of thoughtful humanity sorely needed in our local judicial officers.