Recent cases

  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for failing to disqualify himself from a case a family member filed against the school board, engaging in an ex parte communication with a party’s representative, and making public statements at a school board meeting about the case. Yellowhorse, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct November 14, 2016).
  • Pursuant to an agreement, the Arkansas Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission sent a letter of informal adjustment to a judge for her delayed ruling in 1 matter. McGowan, Letter of informal adjustment (Arkansas Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission November 18, 2016).
  • Based on the commissioner’s resignation and agreement never to serve in judicial office, the California Commission on Judicial Performance dismissed a notice of formal proceedings filed against a former commissioner; the notice had alleged that the commissioner had threatened to take actions that exceeded his authority; made statements that suggested prejudgment or bias and gave litigants the impression that they could not receive a fair trial before a neutral arbiter in his department; in 2 cases in which a misdemeanor was charged, adjudicated the case without obtaining a stipulation from the defendant permitting him to do so and accepted a plea of guilty or no contest without informing the defendant that the charge was a misdemeanor and without informing the defendant of, or receiving the defendant’s explicit waiver of, the right to counsel, the privilege against compulsory self-incrimination, the right to trial by jury, and the right to confrontation; in 2 cases, accepted pleas of guilty without informing the defendants of the charges; failed to properly arraign the defendants in 4 cases; during his traffic calendar, had a practice of telling defendants that he did not want to hear any arguments about the amount of the fine, including their ability to pay, and refused to exercise his discretion to depart from the uniform bail and penalty schedule in sentencing; had a pattern of violating his duty to be patient, dignified, and courteous to litigants and their witnesses; if the uniform bail and penalty schedule called for a fine of $1,000 or more, had a practice of denying community service and requiring the defendant to pay the fine, regardless of the defendant’s ability to pay; if a defendant had posted bail to have a trial, had a practice of denying community service and requiring the defendant to pay the fine, regardless of the defendant’s ability to pay; after an earthquake was felt in his courtroom, made comments of a sexual nature to court staff; and referred to his courtroom clerk, who is Caucasian, as an “honorary black girl” and as “white girl” in the courtroom and in her presence. Inquiry Concerning Culver, Stipulated disposition of pend formal proceedings (California Commission on Judicial Performance December 20, 2016).
  • Approving the Judicial Qualifications Commission’s findings and recommendations, the Florida Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for sending an ex parte e-mail to the public defenders office; failing to seek a recusal or transfer when his division was effectively frozen during an appeal of his refusal to recuse based on the ex parte e-mail; and making impertinent and belittling remarks in open court about the appeal; the Court also ordered that the judge send a letter of apology, continue judicial mentoring for 3 years, complete a mental health program, and pay the costs of the disciplinary proceedings. Inquiry re Contini (Florida Supreme Court December 1, 2016).
  • Based on the decision of the Disciplinary Review Board, which was based on stipulated facts, the New Jersey Supreme Court suspended the law license of a former judge who had presented 4 tickets he and family members had received to other judges for favorable treatment. In the Matter of Sison, Order (New Jersey Supreme Court November 17, 2016).
  • Adopting the sanction recommended by the Board on Professional Conduct, the Ohio Supreme Court suspended an unsuccessful judicial candidate from the practice of law for 1 year for 2 campaign advertisements that contained patently false statements about his opponent; the Court stayed the final 6 months of the suspension on the conditions that he commit no further misconduct and attend a 6-hour CLE course regarding judicial campaigns. Disciplinary Counsel v. Tamburrino (Ohio Supreme Court December 7, 2016).
  • The Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline removed a former judge based on his no-contest plea to 2 state charges of official oppression for taking advantage of his official capacity by demanding that an adult female model lingerie at her residence in exchange for vacating her fines and costs and an unwanted sexual contact with another woman. In re Joy, Opinion (October 7, 2016), Order (November 29, 2016).
  • The Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline removed a judge from office for engaging in repeated ex parte communications with another judge about 3 cases and assuring the other judge that she would take the actions he wanted in those cases. In re Segal, Opinion and order (September 23, 2016), Opinion and order (Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline December 16, 2016).
  • The Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline removed a judge from office for knowingly accepting the offer of another judge to have ex parte contacts to influence a third judge’s decision in a case involving the respondent-judge’s sons. In re Roca, Opinion and order (October 20, 2016), Opinion and order (Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline December 16, 2016).

    Based on an agreement for discipline by consent, the South Carolina Supreme Court suspended a judge for 6 months without pay for Facebook posts about a case, political matters, and a fund-raiser for a local church. In the Matter of Johns (South Carolina Supreme Court November 16, 2016).

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