Recent cases

  • Based on an agreement, the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission suspended a judge without pay for 30 days for (1) granting permanent sole custody of a child to a petitioner without requiring the petitioner to provide evidence or giving the respondent an opportunity to obtain counsel, cross-examine witnesses, or introduce evidence and (2) ordering 2 minor children to be immediately placed in foster care without conducting a formal hearing, taking sworn testimony, or affording the parents basic due process. In re Stein, Agreed order of suspension (Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission March 21, 2017).  In September 2016, based on an agreement, the Commission had suspended the same judge for 7 days without pay for granting an ex parte motion to grant immediate custody to a child’s father.
  • Based on the findings of a referee following a hearing, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct censured a non-lawyer judge for (1) dismissing or reducing charges without notice to or the consent of the prosecution; (2) failing to provide a defendant the opportunity to be heard regarding bail; (3) increasing bail in an improper manner; (4) imposing conditions of release on a defendant that were without basis in law; (5) failing to advise a defendant of the right to counsel, asking incriminatory questions, and imposing improper conditions for permitting the defendant to negotiate a plea; and (6) making improper comments about a defendant’s physical appearance. In the Matter of Clark, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct March 13, 2017).
  • Accepting an agreed statement of facts and joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct censured a judge for making prohibited public comments in 3 media interviews about a pending murder case and threatening to have a prosecutor handcuffed and jailed during a post-trial proceeding in the same case. In the Matter of Piampiano, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct March 13, 2017).
  • The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct censured a non-lawyer judge for signing his name and judicial title beneath a defendant’s signature on a letter requesting another court to change the defendant’s plea from not guilty to guilty regarding a traffic infraction. In the Matter of Sullivan, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct March 13, 2017).
  • Accepting a stipulation based on the judge’s agreement to resign and never seek or accept judicial office, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct discontinued a proceeding against a non-lawyer judge. In the Matter of Purtell, Decision and order (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct March 15, 2017).  The Commission had served a formal written complaint on the judge alleging that he had failed to follow the law in 3 arraignments, including failing to adequately advise the defendants of their constitutional rights and conditioning the duration of defendants’ incarceration on payment of fines and surcharges and made undignified and/or discourteous comments from the bench about women.  The Commission had subsequently apprised him that it was also investigating a complaint regarding his handling of another arraignment.
  • The North Dakota Supreme Court suspended a judge for 3 months without pay for failing to decide a divorce case for more than a year after the trial, failing to make a decision on an ex parte motion to compel the return of a child, and failing to respond to letters from the presiding judge expressing concern about the timeliness of decisions; the Court also assessed the judge $10,118.67 in costs and ordered the judge to attend the course on decision making at the National Judicial College. In the Matter of Hagar (North Dakota Supreme Court March 30, 2017).  The Court had censured the same judge in 2012 for a pattern of delay involving 12 cases and had suspended him for 1 month without pay in 2014 for failing to issue a decision in a divorce case until nearly 10 months after the trial.
  • In a de novo review, the Wyoming Supreme Court 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).

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