Recent cases

  • The California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished a judge for (1) in 3 misdemeanor probation cases, improperly remanding the defendants and delaying setting revocation hearings until after the defendants served a predetermined time in jail, which conveyed the appearance that the judge was circumventing the sheriff’s department’s early release program; (2) improperly responding to a peremptory challenge; (3) referencing her personal life when discussing the ability of 2 defendants to pay fines; and (4) being discourteous to several criminal defendants. In the Matter Concerning Elswick, Public admonishment (California Commission on Judicial Performance December 13, 2018).
  • Based on a stipulation for discipline by consent, the California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished a former judge for making comments in a restraining order proceeding that were undignified, inappropriate, belittling, and injurious to the parties and based on gender stereotypes, raising the appearance of gender bias. In the Matter Concerning Stafford, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance December 13, 2018).
  • Granting the Judicial Standards Commission’s petition to accept a stipulation to permanent resignation in lieu of further disciplinary proceedings, the New Mexico Supreme Court ordered the permanent resignation of a judge; the Commission had filed a notice of formal proceedings alleging that the judge had (1) during a conversation outside the courtroom, threatened the city attorney with contempt and/or arrest when there were no proceedings involving him pending before the judge and she was not on the bench; (2) telephoned the city library director and yelled, cursed, and used offensive and foul language toward her and threatened to have her fired because the judge did not agree with an ordinance concerning library procedures; (3) after a board of trustees/city council meeting that she attended and in which citizens had complained about code violations likely to come before her court, met with the citizens and announced her position on the violations; (4) informed some citizens that she did not agree with and would not enforce the library ordinance; (5) contrary to the library ordinance, dismissed pending library cases for no apparent reason and/or allowed the time to expire on pending cases so she could dismiss them, making statements to the effect of “dismiss all those complaints” and “I’m going to let the six-month rule run on the others;” (6) made statements to the effect that she can do as she pleases and get what she wants “because I’m the judge;” (7) called members of the city’s board of trustees to use their influence in getting her demands for herself and resources for her court; (8) after adjudging a defendant guilty in a weed and rubbish ordinance case, failed to impose any penalty as mandated by the ordinance, allowed him to pay only court costs, and stated in open court that otherwise the code enforcer would just keep “bugging” the defendant; (9) changed penalty assessment traffic citations to hearings, contrary to law; (10) informed her neighbor ex parte that the neighbor had a warrant or would have a warrant if she failed to appear in court, failed to promptly notify the other party of the communication, and failed to disqualify from the neighbor’s case; (11) informed a relative of her neighbor ex parte that she had a warrant or would have a warrant if she failed to appear in court, failed to promptly notify the other party of the communication, and failed to recuse from the case; (12) granted ex parte requests from the defendants in 2 cases for continuances without providing the prosecuting officers notice and an opportunity to be heard; (13) attempted to get special treatment for travel and per diem reimbursements even after being told her requests did not comply with statutory requirements; and (14) refused to sign per diem paperwork for her court staff to attend out-of-town training because she disagreed with the manner in which the city made the financial reimbursements. In the Matter of Soriano, Order (New Mexico Supreme Court December 3, 2018).
  • Granting a petition to accept a stipulated agreement and consent to discipline, the New Mexico Supreme Court publicly censured a judge for refusing to allow an emergency bathroom break for the alleged victim in a domestic violence case, allowing the jury to witness the removal of the victim’s chair, reading the jurors’ notes in the case, and preparing a witness statement for the court interpreter about the request. Inquiry Concerning Madrid, Order and public censure (December 31, 2018).
  • Accepting the stipulation of the parties, the New Mexico Supreme Court publicly censured a judge for failing to transfer a case to the district court after the defendant’s competency became an issue and holding the defendant indefinitely, resulting in the defendant’s incarceration for over 4 months without due process of law. In the Matter of Van Gundy, Order and public censure (New Mexico Supreme Court December 31, 2018).
  • Accepting a stipulation based on the judge’s resignation and affirmation not to seek or accept judicial office in the future, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct concluded a matter involving a former judge, who waived confidentiality to the limited extent that the stipulation can become public. In the Matter of Scolton, Decision and order (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 6, 2018).  In a formal written complaint, the Commission had alleged that the judge, (1) for over 3 years, failed to timely report and deposit court funds to the State Comptroller and the town’s chief fiscal officer; (2) for almost 27 years, failed to properly notify the Department of Motor Vehicles of 2,612 defendants in motor vehicle cases who were convicted, failed to pay a fine, or failed to answer the charge; (3) for over 3 years, failed to monitor his official court e-mail account or respond to e-mails received by that account; and (4) from mid-2017 through May 2018, failed to use a computer and software provided by the Office of Court Administration to facilitate the court’s financial and case administration.
  • Accepting a stipulation based on the judge’s resignation and affirmation not to seek or accept judicial office in the future, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct concluded a matter involving a former judge, who waived confidentiality to the limited extent that the stipulation can become public; the judge had been served with a formal written complaint alleging that he made homophobic and/or otherwise inappropriate remarks and gestures to an attorney. In the Matter of Hallett, Decision and order (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 13, 2018).
  • Based on an agreed statement of facts, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a non-lawyer judge for failing to account for the receipt of over $15,000 in court funds or promptly remit those funds to the Office of the State Comptroller as required and accumulated a surplus of funds in his court bank account that he could not identify. In the Matter of McDermott, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 12, 2018).
  • Based on the report of a referee following a hearing, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for, after her vehicle struck a police van, voluntarily identifying herself as a judge to the police several times, presenting her judicial identification card, and making several other references to her judicial status, and repeatedly questioning the necessity for an accident report and the delay in preparing the report in an attempt to curtail the investigation and be allowed to leave. In the Matter of Michels, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 27, 2018).
  • Adopting the findings and recommendation of the Board of Professional Conduct, which were based on stipulations, the Ohio Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a magistrate for presiding over 3 cases in which she had previously participated personally and substantially as a lawyer for a government agency. Disciplinary Counsel v. Holben (Ohio Supreme Court December 20, 2018).
  • Based on joint stipulations of fact in lieu of trial, the Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Conduct removed a former judge who had pled nolo contendere to “criminal activity related to the exercise of his judicial duties,” that is, retaining the services of constables predicated on their accession to his demand that they contribute to his judicial re-election campaign fund from the income they received from performing constable services for his judicial office. In re Jennings, Opinion (Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Conduct December 19, 2018).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned a judge for authorizing the use of his name, title, and likeness on a mailer advertising a campaign event for a candidate for state senate. Public Warning of Cano (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 13, 2018).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for issuing 2 felony arrest warrants based on complaints that did not contain sufficient probable cause and on information outside the 4 corners of the complaints; the Commission also ordered the judge to obtain 2 hours of instruction with a mentor. Public Reprimand of Brady (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct November 14, 2018).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for (1) inappropriately touching another judge and 2 court clerks at a social function and sending the other judge an offensive text message and (2) making disparaging comments about the district attorney’s office in court in 2 cases. Public Reprimand of Williams (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 14, 2018).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for, in 2 cases involving the same father but different mothers, ordering the children removed from the mothers’ custody and given to the father in the absence of a verified pleading or affidavit, denying the mothers an opportunity to be heard, and failing to be dignified and courteous. Public Reprimand of Williams (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 14, 2018).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned 2 judges for engaging in joint campaign efforts, including a joint fund-raiser and joint campaign materials; the Commission also ordered both judges to obtain 2 hours of instruction with mentors. Public Warning of Martin and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 20, 2018); Public Warning of Cooks and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 20, 2018).
  • Based on a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission publicly admonished a judge for responding “nine inches” after a female court clerk stated “I have a question for you” to him after a court session. In re Kathren, Stipulation, agreement, and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 7, 2018).
  • Based on a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for driving under the influence. In re Tanner, Stipulation, agreement, and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 7, 2018).
  • Based on a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a supreme court justice for 2 Facebook posts soliciting support for non-profit organizations. In re Yu, Stipulation, agreement, and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 7, 2018).
  • Based on a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for a post on his Facebook page encouraging people to attend a charity pancake feed. In re Svaren, Stipulation, agreement, and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 7, 2018).

 

 

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