Judge Wanger retires after 20 years

FRESNO, Calif.

"This is the best job in the world. The ability to serve the public the ability to have the responsibility to make difficult decisions in complicated cases that are so important to our community and society at large."

Wanger was appointed by the first President Bush in 1991. He's best known for ruling on more than one hundred cases in the states contentious water war. Siding with environmentalists in some and farm interests in others. Cases he says, he should not have had to decide.

"All of them need water, there's not enough water, and our legislatures, both the state and federal have absolutely abdicated, they are absent without leave and so their cases have had to come to the court, they shouldn't be in the court."

But Fresno's Operation Rezone in which city council members in Fresno and Clovis were convicted of taking bribes from developers was one case he was glad to try.

"Almost everybody went to prison, and that was a very necessary judicial experience for our community to have and I think we're all stronger for it."

It's fair to say the court won't be the same without him. His departure leaves only two Federal Judges in the Fresno Courthouse, which has the nation's heaviest court load; and he won't be replaced.

Wanger noted: "The two active judges are going to have 1,800 cases each, that's an impossible caseload it cannot be managed. It's humanly impossible. Cases are going to be delayed, cases are not going to be heard and civil trials are essentially not going to get out. They are not going to be tried."

Wanger typically put in 80 hour weeks to keep up with the workload, but loved the challenge.

"This is the best job. It has no comparison. I am going to miss it. I am going to put it behind me."

Oliver Wanger is 70 years old. He doesn't figure on retiring. He will resume private law practice, teach law and continue serving his community.

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