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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Feisty Judge Bites Unruly Defendant’s Nose

Associated Press

A judge accused of biting a defendant’s nose in his courtroom pleaded no contest to battery and resigned Thursday.

Joseph Troisi, a 47-year-old judge on the Pleasants County Circuit Court, could get up to a year in jail and a $500 fine for the alleged attack June 26 against Bill Witten, 29.

Troisi still faces federal civil rights charges carrying up to 10 years in prison.

“It once again proves that no matter who you are, you’re not above the law,” said Witten’s father, Ray Witten.

Troisi was accused of stepping down from the bench, taking off his robe and confronting Witten after the defendant cursed at the judge while being led out of the courtroom. Afterward, witnesses said, Troisi returned to the bench as if nothing happened.

Troisi claimed he did not intend to bite Witten. Witten suffered a bruise on the tip of his nose.

The incident occurred after a hearing at which Troisi refused to reduce Witten’s $40,000 bail while the defendant appealed his sentence for grand larceny and illegally entering a business. A half-dozen people in the courtroom saw the incident.

A report prepared for the state Supreme Court said Troisi, who was first elected to the bench in 1992, had a long-standing inability to control his temper on the bench. In all, Troisi lost his temper 19 times in the past two years, the report said.

Troisi’s arraignment on the federal charges is scheduled for Oct. 31.