State judicial discipline sanctions:  Top judicial ethics and discipline stories of 2016

In 2016, as a result of disciplinary proceedings, 131 judges, former judges, or judicial candidates in 32 states and D.C. were found to have violated the code of judicial conduct in public decisions.

  • 11 judges (or former judges in 5 cases) were removed from office (a $1000 fine was also imposed in one of the removal cases).
  • 1 judge was ordered to retire immediately due to misconduct and never to run for judicial office again.
  • 1 judge was retired due to permanent disabilities.
  • 2 former judges were permanently barred from serving in judicial office (1 of those former judges was also publicly reprimanded).
  • 13 judges or former judges resigned or retired in lieu of discipline pursuant to public agreements with conduct commissions.
  • 103 additional judges (or former judges in approximately 13 cases or former judicial candidates in 5 cases) received other public sanctions.
    • 15 suspensions without pay, ranging from 1 year to 7 days. One 1-year suspension was stayed on the condition the judge commit no further misconduct; one 30-day suspension included a $2500 fine and reprimand; 2 suspensions [1 of 30 days, 1 of 120 days] also included censures; one 3-month suspension included an order that the judge not run for re-election.  There were 3 suspensions for 6 months (or 180 days in 1 case); the other suspensions were for 4 months, 90 days, 1 month, 15 days, and 14 days.
    • 11 public censures.
    • 37 public reprimands (8 of the reprimands included conditions such as mentoring, a letter of apology, counseling, anger management, or training).
    • 21 public admonishments (2 of the admonishments also included orders of additional education).
    • 3 public warnings (2 of the warnings included orders of additional education).
    • 1 informal adjustment.
    • 1 fine of $50,000.
    • 1 judge was placed on supervised probation for 1 year with a mentorship for 6 months.
    • 1 private reprimand was made public pursuant to the judge’s waiver.
    • 5 former judges were disbarred or had their law licenses suspended for misconduct that occurred while they were judges.
    • 2 findings of violations of the code of judicial conduct were made without a sanction imposed.
    • 4 former judicial candidates were sanctioned for their conduct during their judicial election campaigns (the dispositions were an informal adjustment; an admonishment; a censure; and a 1-year suspension of the former candidate’s law license, with 6-months stayed conditioned on his committing no additional misconduct).
    • 1 judicial candidate was removed from the ballot as ineligible because he had been convicted of a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude.

Approximately 60% of the sanctions were entered pursuant to an agreement.  This count does not include pending recommendations or decisions pending on appeal, and “judge” refers generically to judicial officers, including justices, magistrates, commissioners, and hearing officers.

To see the 2015 statistics, click here.

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2 thoughts on “State judicial discipline sanctions:  Top judicial ethics and discipline stories of 2016

  1. Pingback: 2016 Facebook fails:  Top judicial ethics and discipline stories of 2016 | Judicial ethics and discipline

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