Fresno County judge facing investigation after helping friend avoid jail

A Fresno County judge has admitted to helping a friend accused of felony domestic violence skirt a formal hearing and get out of jail on his own recognizance.

It’s good to know the judge.

The Fresno Bee reports that a lawyer for Superior Court Judge James M. Petrucelli said the judge "admits that he made a mistake and is willing to accept discipline short of the loss of his job."

The California Commission on Judicial Performance has begun formal proceedings against the 64-year-old judge.

The paper reports Jay Ghazal's release from jail last year was a bit unusual. Domestic abuse suspects generally can be released on their own recognizance only after a judge holds a hearing with the prosecution.

It’s not the first time the judge’s behavior has been called into question. In 2007 Petrucelli was reprimanded by the commission for poor behavior toward lawyers and county employees in his courtroom.