Reported by: Melissa Mecija| SANTA MARIA
After 20 years as a judge in Santa Maria, the Honorable Rodney Melville-known for presiding over the Michael Jackson trial-is stepping down.
Judge Melville moved to Santa Maria in 1971. He was appointed to the bench in 1987 by then-Governor George Deukmejian. He presides over civil cases, although his experience goes far beyond that.
From law student to deputy district attorney to judge in Santa Maria-time on the bench is nearing the end for the Honorable Rodney Melville.
“I feel very fulfilled. It’s been a wonderful career,” Hon. Melville said.
He spoke candidly to Action News about what he’s most famous for: presiding over Michael Jackson’s trial in 2005, where the King of Pop as eventually cleared of molestation charges.
Despite international spotlight, he believes the way it was handled was a success.
“I tried to treat that case the same way I treated every case that came in front of me,” Hon. Melville said. “It was different only from the standpoint that I had a large media–people from all over the world came to report it.”
But there’s more to this father of two-grandfather of three.
As a young man, he battled alcoholism, an experience that changed his perspective forever.
“I think I was better able to help people. I don’t forgive people for committing crimes just because they’re an alcoholic or an addict. I forgive them for being an alcoholic or an addict, and that way I can help get them into treatment, which I did,” Hon. Melville said.
Now, he looks forward to spending time with his horses, traveling with his wife, and of course, he’s “trying to learn how to play golf.”
“I’m going to have some fun,” the judge laughed.
Judge Melville will spend time as a fill-in judge in Riverside County and also in Santa Maria. Then, you can find him probably traveling the world.
Judge Melville says it will probably take a few months before Governor Schwarzenegger appoints his new replacement.