Throwback Thursday

5 years ago this month:

  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a hearing officer for berating a litigant for attempting to cite Arizona law in a small claims proceeding, advising the parties against “quoting any of the rules or regulations of Arizona law,” and employing a bullying tone and demeanor throughout the hearing. Madanick, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct June 27, 2013).
  • The Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission publicly reprimanded a judge for granting an ex parte verbal request by a paternal grandmother to take children involved in a domestic matter to a family gathering without notice to the parties or a hearing, even though he was aware that a domestic violence order prohibited the father from having visitation with the children. In re Langford, Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Final Order (Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission June 17, 2013).
  • Affirming the Judicial Tenure Commission’s findings of fact and conclusions of law, the Michigan Supreme Court removed a judge from office for (1) committing perjury in a hearing in her divorce case; (2) signing her former attorney’s name on legal documents and filing those documents without the attorney’s permission; and (3) making numerous misrepresentations under oath during the Commission proceedings. In re Adams, 833 N.W.2d 897 (Michigan 2013).
  • Accepting an agreed statement of facts and stipulation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for sending an unsolicited letter on judicial stationery to the division of parole on behalf of the son of a family acquaintance. In the Matter of Smith, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 19, 2013).
  • Based on an agreed statement of facts and stipulation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a judge for filing his 2010 financial disclosure statement 11 months late and failing to cooperate with the Commission investigation. In the Matter of McAndrews, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 18, 2013).

A universe of worthy messages:  Symbols on robes and signs in the courthouse

In a recent opinion, the Arizona judicial ethics committee advised that:

  • Judicial robes should be free of adornments,
  • Courts may display signs stating that harassment, bias, or prejudice on the basis of race, sex, gender, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, marital status, socioeconomic status, or affiliation are strictly prohibited in the courthouse, but
  • Courts and judicial officers should not “single out any particular category of citizens in offering such assurances.”

Arizona Advisory Opinion 2018-3.

A judge had asked the committee “whether judicial officers in the juvenile court may wear small rainbow-flag pins (or similar symbols) on their robes and post ‘safe place’ placards on courtroom doors that convey acceptance to LGBTQ youth.”  Those measures had been proposed by a court working group on the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.  Noting that “one barrier to LGBTQ youth seeking services is their reticence to trust those involved in the systems,” the working group suggested that certain symbols and signs may reassure “LGBTQ youth that they are in a safe place and dealing with safe people” when at the court.

The judicial ethics committee concluded, however, that, “[n]o matter how worthy the cause suggested by items such as a rainbow pin, domestic violence awareness ribbon, cross, or military veteran’s insignia, the judicial robe should not serve as a platform for conveying messages or for communicating a judge’s personal beliefs or extrajudicial activities.”

The judicial robe powerfully and unmistakably invokes the prestige of judicial office.  Using that prestige to express support for any particular message, organization, cause, or category of citizens necessarily excludes a large universe of equally worthy messages, organizations, causes, and citizens who might feel reassured upon encountering a judge displaying symbols meaningful to them. . . .

Promoting confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary requires that judicial robes be free of symbols, pins, or messages, instead conveying the singular and uniform message that a judge’s fidelity is to the law and to equal justice for all who come before the court.

The opinion cited Michigan Advisory Opinion JI-68 (1993) (a judge may participate in health education and social awareness activities such as AIDS prevention and encourage other persons to support the same cause but should not wear on the judicial robe a symbol indicating the judge’s support or opposition to a particular political, social, or charitable/civic cause, for example, a red AIDS awareness ribbon) and Rule 2.340 of the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration (“During any judicial proceeding, robes worn by a judge must be solid black with no embellishment”).

Similarly, the opinion advised that, “[c]oncerns regarding impartiality and avoiding the appearance of bias likewise control the question about displaying ‘safe place’ signs or symbols in court facilities.  Courthouses should be safe venues for everyone, and they should also be perceived in that fashion.”

Judges may communicate the judiciary’s commitment to prohibiting bias, prejudice, and harassment by posting signs or placards in courthouses that communicate Rule 2.3’s message.  But . . . signs or placards should not single out a subset of the groups enumerated in Rule 2.3 when offering such assurances.

Rule 2.3(B) of the code of judicial conduct provides:  “A judge shall not, in the performance of judicial duties, by words or conduct manifest bias or prejudice, or engage in harassment, including but not limited to bias, prejudice, or harassment based upon race, sex, gender, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, marital status, socioeconomic status, or political affiliation, and shall not permit court staff, court officials, or others subject to the judge’s direction and control to do so.”

 

Throwback Thursday

10 years ago this month:

  • Based on a stipulation, the California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished a former judge for soliciting donations to a fund-raising auction for a charitable organization, selling auction tickets and having court staff sell tickets, acting as an auctioneer, and using his judicial secretary, court resources, and court letterhead in personal matters. In the Matter of Quall, Decision and Order (California Commission on Judicial Performance June 2, 2008).
  • Based on the findings of 3 masters, the California Commission on Judicial Performance removed a judge for deliberately making false and misleading statements concerning her registration and attendance at a judicial education seminar to obtain court funds to which she was not entitled. Inquiry Concerning MacEachern, Decision and Order (California Commission on Judicial Performance June 26, 2008).
  • Based on the recommendation of the Judicial Qualifications Commission, the Kansas Supreme Court publicly censured a judge for losing her temper with potential jurors during voir dire in a criminal case. In the Matter of Pilshaw, 186 P.3d 708 (Kansas 2008).
  • Adopting in part the recommendation of the Judicial Tenure Commission, the Michigan Supreme Court removed a judge from office for (1) making false statements under oath in her divorce proceedings; (2) making and soliciting false statements to the Commission, including submitting fabricated evidence; (3) improperly listing cases on the no-progress docket; (4) excessive absences, commencing proceedings late, untimely adjournments, and improper docket management; (5) allowing a social relationship to influence the release of a criminal defendant from probation; and (6) recklessly flaunting her office in an incident at a gas station. In re Nettles-Nickerson, 750 N.W.2d 560 (Michigan 2008).
  • Adopting the recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Performance, the Mississippi Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for ex parte communications and other conduct in 3 eviction cases that indicated partiality towards the tenants. Commission on Judicial Performance v. Sutton, 985 So.2d 322 (Mississippi 2008).
  • Affirming the findings of the Commission on Judicial Discipline but concluding that the record did not support the Commission’s imposition of a public censure, the Nevada Supreme Court ordered a judge to issue a formal apology to a woman for threatening to detain her until her boyfriend, the defendant, arrived and for using language that his marshal reasonably believed was an instruction to detain the woman. In re Assad, 185 P.3d 1044 (Nevada 2008).
  • Adopting the presentment of the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct, the New Jersey Supreme Court publicly censured a judge for presiding over a traffic case involving a defendant with whom she had a personal relationship and, following an ex parte meeting with the defendant in her chambers, dismissing the ticket off the record and waiving court costs. In the Matter of Elias, 948 A.2d 1272 (New Jersey 2008).
  • Accepting the determination of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, the New York Court of Appeals removed a judge from office for revoking the recognizance release of 46 defendants when no one took responsibility for a ringing cell phone. In the Matter of Restaino, 890 N.E.2d 224 (New York 2008).
  • Accepting an agreed statement of facts and joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for, in 3 cases, making rude, intemperate comments to and about litigants that conveyed the appearance of bias. In the Matter of Pines, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 17, 2008).
  • The North Carolina Judicial Standards Commission publicly reprimanded a judge for signing an order striking findings made by another judge following ex parte communications from an attorney. In re Taylor, Public Reprimand (North Carolina Judicial Standards Commission June 6, 2008).
  • The North Carolina Judicial Standards Commission publicly reprimanded a judge for failing to provide a written judgment for almost 4 years after a trial. In re Frye, Public Reprimand (North Carolina Judicial Standards Commission June 9, 2008).

Anonymous complaints

2 recent public sanctions by the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct started with anonymous complaints.

1 anonymous complaint alleged that a judge had referred to a man in court as “Mr. Maggot” or “Maggot Man,” or words to that effect.  The man was the subject of a guardianship case and had wounds that had become infested with maggots.

3 witnesses provided written statements confirming the anonymous allegations, and the judge said she did not doubt the veracity of the witnesses although she did not specifically recall using those terms.  The judge explained that, due to her heavy caseload, she is often unable to immediately recall the names of proposed wards and, “[t]o differentiate one case from another, I might ask is this the maggot guy, is this the rat lady case . . . .”  The Commission publicly admonished the judge for this and other misconduct.  Public Admonition of Cross and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct April 18, 2018) .

A second anonymous complaint received by the Commission alleged that a judge was being investigated by the county and the EEOC for sexually harassing one of his employees, referred to as Jane Doe.  The judge had hired Doe as a clerk in January 2015, at a salary of $28,840.  When her employment was terminated in July 2015, her salary was $38,110.  In a complaint with the EEOC filed in January 2016, Doe alleged that, while she was the judge’s clerk, he kissed her, touched her inappropriately, and commented inappropriately about her body.  In June 2016, Doe dismissed her EEOC complaint.  In September 2016, the judge rehired Doe as his assistant court coordinator at a salary of $41,557.

In his sworn written response to the Commission, the judge admitted telling Doe that she had “a nice butt” in 2015.  He denied kissing, touching, or making sexual comments to her while she worked in his court but admitted doing so during an intimate relationship they had after he fired her but before he rehired her.  During his subsequent appearance before the Commission, the judge denied that he had ever kissed or touched Doe, claiming his previous response had not been accurate, although he was unable to explain the discrepancy.

The Commission publicly reprimanded the judge for this and other misconduct.  Public Reprimand of Jasso and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct April 18, 2018).

Like the Texas Commission, most judicial conduct commissions accept anonymous complaints, although most commissions “strongly encourage” complainants to identify themselves because anonymous complaints “are much more difficult to investigate” as the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board notes on its web-site.  As the recent Texas cases illustrate, commissions use anonymous complaints only to start an inquiry; to charge a judge or prove misconduct, a commission has to uncover and present other evidence that the judge is able to challenge, or the judge may admit the allegations.  Thus, arguments that anonymous complaints are unfair because the judge cannot confront the accuser, who may have an improper motive, are misplaced.

Allowing complaints to be filed anonymously increases the chances that serious misconduct will be reported.  Attorneys who appear frequently before a judge and court staff are the individuals most likely to know about on-the-bench misconduct and least likely to file unfounded complaints based only on a disagreement with a judge’s decision.  But attorneys and court staff also have good reason to fear retaliation by a judge for the filing of a complaint, and anonymity encourages complaints by providing some measure of protection from reprisals.

In addition to the recent Texas cases, 2 previous cases initiated by anonymous complaints illustrate the importance of allowing that option.

In In re Alford,  977 So. 2d 811 (Louisiana 2008), the Louisiana Supreme Court removed a judge from office for her physical and psychological dependence on prescription medications that seriously impaired her judgment and mental faculties while performing judicial duties, a pattern of absenteeism and appearing late for court, and other misconduct.  During the disciplinary hearing, audio tapes of proceedings, the testimony of numerous lay witnesses, including court employees, and the testimony of an expert in psychopharmacology were presented, and the judge had an opportunity to cross examine all of those witnesses and challenge any of that evidence.

The investigation had been initiated by an anonymous complaint that, given the nature of the allegations, most likely came from someone with an opportunity to observe the judge repeatedly, most likely an attorney who regularly appeared before her or a member of court staff.  The anonymous complaint had alleged that, among other things, the judge appeared impaired on the bench to such an extent that she was “inarticulate,” “incoherent,” or fell asleep, that she was repeatedly absent from work, and that she canceled court dates without prior notice.

If, instead of investigating, the Commission had had to ignore the complaint because it was anonymous, the obvious harm to the public caused by a judge with a drug problem would have continued and probably increased.  Further, public confidence in the discipline process and judiciary would have decreased after the judge’s problem became more notorious, as it almost certainly would have.

In In re Freeman,  995 So. 2d 1197 (Louisiana 2008), the Louisiana Court suspended a justice of the peace without pay until the end of his term for failing to resign his office when he became a candidate for the non-judicial office of police juror.  A complaint signed by an anonymous “concerned citizen” had included 3 photographs of campaign signs advertising his candidacy for the non-judicial position.  The complainant was quite possibly someone politically opposed to the judge, but that motivation did not detract from the credibility of the allegations — the judge admitted them — or dispel the seriousness of the violation.

The rules of the Louisiana Judiciary Commission provide:  “An anonymous complaint may not be the subject of a preliminary inquiry unless it states facts, not mere conclusions, that can be independently verified and the Chair authorizes a preliminary inquiry to be made.”  Louisiana Supreme Court Rule XXIII, Judiciary Commission, § 3(a)(2).

In its 2017 annual report, the Massachusetts Commission on Judicial Conduct reported receiving 2 anonymous complaints and described its handling of 1 in detail.  The complainant had alleged that a judge had displayed a pattern of treating lawyers and other parties appearing before him discourteously.  After reviewing the complaint, the Commission concluded that the seriousness or notoriety of the alleged misconduct outweighed the potential prejudicial effect of an investigation and voted to investigate.  The investigation included a review of audio records from the judge’s courtroom but revealed no evidence of discourtesy, and the Commission dismissed the complaint.  The Massachusetts Commission has a rule that provides:  “Before an anonymous complaint can be investigated, it must first go to the Commission to determine whether the seriousness or the notoriety of the misconduct alleged outweighs the potential prejudicial effect of investigating the complaint.”  Massachusetts Commission on Judicial Conduct, Rule 6(F).

Examples of provisions regarding anonymous complaints from other states:

  • “Staff will evaluate anonymous complaints for merit; if a complaint is deemed sufficiently meritorious, it will be placed on the oversight agenda for consideration by the commission as to whether or not it should be docketed.” California Commission on Judicial Performance, Policy Declaration 1.1.
  • “The Commission occasionally receives anonymous information but generally does not consider it. If such information is received, it is circulated among the Commissioners.  A Commissioner may then place a ‘hold’ on the item, causing it to be placed on the next agenda for discussion.”  Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission, Internal Operating Procedure 9.207(A)-8.
  • “The Commission may authorize investigation of anonymous complaints that are sufficiently detailed and allege conduct that, if true, would constitute misconduct. An anonymous complaint authorized for investigation shall be treated as a complaint brought by the Commission on its own motion pursuant to Judiciary Law §44(2).”  New York Commission on Judicial Conduct, Policy Manual §2.1(F).
  • “Disciplinary Counsel is authorized to investigate anonymous complaints or information coming from sources other than a written complaint, provided Disciplinary Counsel deems the information sufficiently credible or verifiable through objective sources.” Tennessee Board on Judicial Conduct, Rule 5, §2.
  • “Any named or anonymous organization, association, or person, including a member of the commission or staff, may make a complaint of judicial misconduct or incapacity to the commission.” Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct, Rule 17(b)(1) .

 

Throwback Thursday

20 years ago this month:

  • The California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished a judge who had motions in 1 criminal case under submission for 7 months and demurrers in 2 misdemeanor criminal cases under submission for 13 months and who, while he had those cases under submission, executed salary declarations under penalty of perjury stating that he had no cases pending and undecided for longer than 90 days to continue to receive his judicial salary. Public Admonishment of Oliver (California Commission on Judicial Performance June 16, 1998).
  • The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a judge for, while one of the first prosecutions under the state’s new capital punishment statute was pending before him, giving a speech to a group of police officials that noted constitutional problems with the statute, questioned the need for the capital defenders office, stated that murder cases can cost as much as $2 million and that half of the convictions are overturned on appeal, and criticized defense lawyers for using “technicalities” to block prosecutions and obtain appellate reversals. In the Matter of Bruhn, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 24, 1998).
  • The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a part time, non-lawyer judge for implying in campaign materials that he was a lawyer. In the Matter of Fiore, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 25, 1998).
  • The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for reducing the charges in 2 traffic cases based on conversations with the defendants and without notice to or the consent of the prosecution. In the Matter of Hooper, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 29, 1998).
  • Based on an agreed statement of facts and joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a judge for (1) speaking in 2 cases to defendants whom she knew to be represented by counsel to urge them to enter guilty pleas; (2) engaging in ill-placed humor, minimizing charges before her, and making remarks concerning the reliability of prosecution witnesses; (3) engaging in ex parte communications; and (4) suggesting that the conduct of one member of an ethnic group reflected on all members of that group. In the Matter of Smith, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 29, 1998).
  • Pursuant to a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a former judge for consuming beer on court premises with jurors and attorneys following a driving while under the influence case. In re Baldwin, Stipulation, order, and resignation (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 5, 1998).
  • Pursuant to a stipulation and consent, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge pro tempore for serving while suspended from the practice of law for non-payment of dues. In re Seidlitz, Stipulation, agreement, and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 5, 1998).
  • Accepting an agreement, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals publicly censured a judge, who had also agreed to resign, for “initiat[ing] a physical confrontation” with a criminal defendant in his courtroom. In the Matter of Troisi, 504 S.E.2d 625 (West Virginia 1998).

Recent cases

  • Following a trial, the Alabama Court of the Judiciary suspended a judge for 180 days without pay and publicly reprimanded her for a pattern and practice of unreasonable and unjustifiable delay in managing her family court docket. In the Matter of Kelly, Final judgment (Alabama Court of the Judiciary May 11, 2018).
  • The California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished a judge for (1) stating in open court that the defendant’s attorney in a criminal case had been “disparaging of” and “unprofessional” to a witness, had been extremely unprofessional and disrespectful to the judge, and had a “temper tantrum;” (2) failing to disclose improper ex parte communications received from her bailiff; and (3) telling other judges at a judges’ meeting that she had found that a sheriff’s officer had committed perjury. In the Matter Concerning Novak, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance May 30, 2018).
  • Pursuant to an agreement, the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission publicly reprimanded a judge for entering numerous ex parte orders to produce a defendant’s records to his public defender without notifying the prosecution and for speaking with the public defender on multiple occasions without the prosecution’s knowledge. In re Cunningham, Public reprimand (Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission May 22, 2018).
  • Accepting the parties’ stipulation of facts, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court suspended a judge indefinitely without pay and publicly censured him for his sexual relationship with a member of the drug court team; the Court ordered that a copy of its order be delivered to the governor and the legislature. In re Estes, Order (Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court May 24, 2018).
  • The Minnesota Board on Judicial Standards publicly reprimanded a judge for driving while impaired and identifying himself as a judge to the arresting officer. In the Matter of Atwal, Public reprimand (Minnesota Board on Judicial Standards May 30, 2018).
  • Based on a stipulation and agreement, the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline publicly censured a judge for failing to be attentive to his administrative duties, to properly manage and supervise his staff, and to oversee the daily operation of his court, resulting in inordinate delays and confusion in the processing of cases; the judge also agreed to complete a course at the National Judicial College on effective caseflow management. In the Matter of Gunter, Stipulation, order of consent, and agreement (Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline May 18, 2018).
  • Accepting the findings and recommendation of the Judicial Standards Commission, based on a stipulation and the judge’s agreement, the North Carolina Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for failing to issue a ruling for more than 2 years on a motion for attorney’s fees and expenses and failing to respond promptly to party and attorney inquiries about the status of the ruling. In re Henderson, Order (North Carolina Supreme Court May 11, 2018).
  • Pursuant to an agreement, the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for interfering in a traffic stop and for dismissing citations issued by the highway patrol without the request of law enforcement authorities or the district attorneys’ office and without taking proof of the facts. Re Hinson (Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct May 9, 2018).
  • Based on a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for, during sentencing in a domestic violence case, addressing the defendant in a confrontational and angry tone, repeatedly calling the defendant “an animal,” and, near the conclusion of the hearing, refusing to let the defendant speak, telling him, “You don’t have the integrity to talk to me.” In re Wilson, Stipulation, agreement, and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct May 11, 2018).
  • Based on a stipulation and a former judge’s agreement not to seek or serve in any judicial office without the Commission’s consent, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct dismissed a pending disciplinary matter alleging that the judge had failed to complete 10 hours of courses in judicial ethics within 2 years as required by a 2014 stipulated agreement in which she had been censured for driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and gratuitously identifying herself as a judge to the arresting officer. In re Hitchcock, Stipulation, agreement, and order of dismissal (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct May 11, 2018).

Throwback Thursday

25 years ago this month:

  • With the judge’s consent, the California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly reproved a judge for playing jokes on 2 defendants. Letter to Judge Friedman (California Commission on Judicial Performance June 21, 1993).
  • Agreeing with the recommendation of the Judicial Qualifications Commission, the Florida Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for sending a letter on his judicial stationery to 2 newspapers responding to the opposition to the retention of the chief justice, praising the chief justice and supporting his retention. Inquiry Concerning Glickstein, 620 So. 2d 1000 (Florida 1993).
  • Approving the findings and recommendations of the Judicial Qualifications Commission, the Florida Supreme Court removed a judge from office for (1) repeatedly using his position to make allegations of official misconduct and improperly criticize fellow judges, elected officials, and others without a reasonable factual basis or regard for their reputations; (2) imposing improper sentences and improperly using the contempt power; (3) acting in an undignified and discourteous manner toward litigants, attorneys, and others appearing in his court; and (4) closing and attempting to close public proceedings. Inquiry Concerning Graham, 620 So. 2d 1273 (Florida 1993).
  • The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct removed a former judge for a pattern of subjecting subordinate women in the court system to uninvited sexual activity, touching, and crude and suggestive comments and for taking advantage of his position as a judge and employer in a series of sexual encounters with his young court reporter and secretary. In the Matter of LoRusso, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 8, 1993).
  • The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a part-time town court justice for (1) considering an ex parte communication concerning a case pending before her; concluding on the basis of that conversation that the defendant’s purported diabetic condition was a justification for the criminal conduct alleged; initiating an ex parte contact with the complaining witness that conveyed the impression that she wanted him to withdraw his complaint; having an ex parte conversation with the arresting officers that gave the impression of prejudgment and partiality; and failing to disqualify herself until she learned that defense counsel had complained about her meeting with the complaining witness; and (2) being employed as a secretary and paralegal for an attorney who appeared regularly as a prosecutor in her court, although not before her. In the Matter of McCormick, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 9, 1993).
  • Approving the recommendation of the Judicial Standards Commission, the North Carolina Supreme Court publicly censured a judge who had barred an attorney from sessions of juvenile court over which she would be presiding because he had initiated the Commission’s preliminary investigation of her. In re Bissell, 429 S.E.2d 731 (North Carolina 1993).
  • Pursuant to the former magistrate’s consent, the South Carolina Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a former magistrate for using a credit-type card issued to him in his official capacity to purchase vehicles for his personal use through the state surplus property office. In the Matter of Ulmer, 432 S.E.2d 481 (South Carolina 1993).
  • The Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for (1) threatening to cancel the public defender contract of an attorney who had filed several affidavits of prejudice against him; (2) after a deputy prosecuting attorney presented an agreement with defense counsel that would dispose of the charges in a case, arresting the deputy prosecuting attorney and holding him in contempt for refusing to arrest a state trooper who was a key witness; (3) visiting a defendant in jail after the defendant was arrested for failure to appear; releasing the defendant without setting an appearance date; and instructing one of his staff to talk to the arresting officer about the identity of the person who received the ticket; and (4) dismissing sua sponte a DWI charge against a defendant who had had knee surgery and could not get into the courtroom when there were other reasonable alternatives for taking the plea. In re Junke, Decision (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 4, 1993).