More federal transparency

The U.S. Judicial Conference Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability has released for public comment a draft of proposed amendments to the rules for judicial conduct and disability proceedings and has scheduled a public hearing for October 30 in D.C. The committee explained that the draft amendments “are designed to make the Act’s complaint process more effective and efficient, improve its transparency, clarify language in the JCD Rules, and fill procedural gaps. They deal with publication requirements, varieties of misconduct and disability, potential remedies, special-committee procedures, appeal rights, consultation options, and other matters.”

One of the proposed changes involves only switching one small word for another small word, but it could make a big improvement in transparency in some circuits. Where Rule 24b now states that final orders “must be made public by placing them in a publicly accessible file in the office of the circuit clerk or by placing the orders on the court’s public website,” under the proposed amendments, final orders “must be made public by placing them in a publicly accessible file in the office of the circuit clerk and by placing the orders on the court’s public website” (emphasis added). Commentary emphasizes that “Rule 24(b) makes clear that circuits must post on their external websites all orders required to be made public . . . .” (In the federal discipline process, unlike most states, all final orders are public although, if the complaint is dismissed or if a private censure or reprimand is issued, the judge’s name is not disclosed in the publicly available materials. For more about the federal judicial discipline process, visit the Center’s web-site.)

Many federal circuits already publish final orders on their web-sites, for example, the 1st, the 3rd, the 7th, the 9th, the 10th, and D.C.

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