Same-sex marriage

The Wyoming Supreme Court has censured a judge for her refusal to perform same-sex marriages and ordered that she either perform no marriage ceremonies or that she perform marriage ceremonies regardless of the couple’s sexual orientation.  Inquiry Concerning Neely (Wyoming Supreme Court March 7, 2017).  In addition to finding that the judge’s expressed refusal to conduct same-sex marriages violated the code of judicial conduct, the Court addressed whether the provisions of the Wyoming code of judicial conduct alleged to have been violated by the judge were void for vagueness and whether the U.S. and Wyoming Constitutions permit the Court to discipline the judge for announcing that her religious beliefs prevent her from officiating same-sex marriages.  2 justices dissented.


Recent cases

  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for gathering signatures for 5 nominating petitions for the constable of her judicial precinct. Felix, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct February 6, 2017).
  • The Florida Supreme Court suspended a judge for 6 months without pay and publicly reprimanded him for (1) while a candidate, (a) falsely stating in a televised debate that he had never been accused of a conflict of interest and failing to correct that statement during the debate or afterwards and (b) stating at a judicial forum that he was a registered Republican and that his former affiliation with the Democratic Party was an error; and (2) while an attorney, (a) failing to advise opposing counsel that he was representing the judge presiding in their case in an unrelated case, (b) failing to advise 3 clients of the risks and advantages of common representation and to withdraw when conflicts became apparent, and (c) filing a bankruptcy petition and taking other actions on behalf of a client that were detrimental to other clients and incorrectly stating the status of his representation on filings in the bankruptcy court. Inquiry Concerning Decker (Florida Supreme Court March 2, 2017).
  • Agreeing with a statement of circumstances and conditional agreement for discipline, the Indiana Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a senior judge for his arrest and conviction for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. In the Matter of Page (Indiana Supreme Court February 20, 2017).
  • Based on an agreement, the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission publicly reprimanded a former judge for engaging in a sexual relationship with a woman who was indicted in a felony criminal case over which he was presiding and having ex parte communications with her about her case. In re Dortch, Public reprimand (Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission February 24, 2017).
  • The Louisiana Supreme Court ordered a judge to reimburse the district court $10,002.58 in out-of-pocket expenses paid to him under an unauthorized supplemental benefits program. In Derbigny (Louisiana Supreme Court January 20, 2017).
  • The Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline publicly reprimanded a judge and fined her $1,000 for signing an ex parte order as part of a Canadian divorce for an attorney she knew. In the Matter of Andress-Tobiasson, Findings of fact, conclusions of law, and imposition of discipline (Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline February 23, 2017).
  • Based on his consent and agreement not to serve in a judicial position, the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline censured a former judge for holding 3 defendants in contempt of court without entering the necessary written order and ordering a public defender handcuffed and holding her in contempt. In the Matter of Hafen, Stipulation and order of consent (Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline February 27, 2017).
  • Based on the judge’s consent, the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline publicly reprimanded a judge for falsely claiming 5 endorsements in a campaign ad. In the Matter of Smith, Stipulation and order of consent (Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline February 27, 2017).
  • The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals suspended a judge for 2 years without pay and ordered him to pay a $15,000 fine for a campaign flyer that falsely portrayed his opponent, the incumbent judge, partying at the White House with President Obama. In the Matter of Callaghan (West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals February 9, 2017).

Throwback Thursday

25 years ago this month:

  • Agreeing with the Judicial Tenure Commission and pursuant to the stipulation of the judge, the Michigan Supreme Court publicly censured a judge who, in a telephone interview with a newspaper reporter, expressed his displeasure with the Michigan Parental Rights Restoration Act and stated that one of the circumstances in which he might permit a minor to have an abortion pursuant to the act would be when a white girl was raped by a black man. In the Matter of Bourisseau, 480 N.W.2d 270 (Michigan 1992).
  • Adopting the findings, conclusions, and recommendations of the Judicial Standards Commission, the North Carolina Supreme Court publicly censured a judge who interjected himself into proceedings initiated against close friends concerning suspected child abuse and acted as an advocate for those friends. In re Harrell, 414 S.E.2d 36 (North Carolina 1992).