Recent cases

  • Based on a stipulation, the California Commission on Judicial Performance severely censured a judge for (1) failing to accept responsibility for a ticket for running a red light until instructed to do so by her presiding judge, knowingly participating in her husband’s request for a trial by written declaration, and seeking assistance with the ticket from a court clerk; (2) having an ex parte telephone conversation with a deputy district attorney about a question from a deliberating jury and responding to the question in writing without the knowledge of the defendant or his attorney; (3) saying to a defendant in a restraining order proceeding, “You can’t down a couple of 40s before you go pick [your children] up before a visit because that’s not good. Do you understand?”; and (4) in a jury trial, asking a self-represented plaintiff a question that reflected disbelief in her testimony, making a comment that conveyed to the jury that she had not seen any evidence to support a damages award, and referring to the “well-known quote” that the party who represents himself has a fool for a client.  In the Matter Concerning Symons, Decision and Order (California Commission on Judicial Performance May 20, 2019).
  • The California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished a judge for failing to resentence a criminal defendant for over 3 years after remand by the court of appeal. In the Matter Concerning Sandoval, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance May 20, 2019).
  • Accepting a stipulation based on the judge’s resignation and agreement not to seek or accept judicial office in the future, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct concluded a proceeding against a former non-lawyer judge for, at a public meeting of the village board addressing public concerns about criminal activity in the village, had “made statements that conveyed disdain for certain laws and aspects of legal process, a predisposition to presume defendants guilty, and personal annoyance with lawyers who represent criminal defendants.” In the Matter of Stone, Decision and Order (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct May 30, 2019).
  • Adopting the findings and recommendation of the Judicial Standards Commission based on a stipulation and agreement, the North Carolina Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for attacking the personal integrity and fairness of the chief judge in complaints to other judges, court staff, local attorneys, the Administrative Office of the Courts, and the Commission and failing to diligently discharge her duties. In re Smith (North Carolina Supreme Court May 10, 2019).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for pulling traffic citations to have an assistant district attorney file a motion to dismiss and/or provide other preferential treatment; the Commission also ordered that he receive 20 hours of instruction with a mentor. Public Reprimand of Trejo and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct April 26, 2019).
  • A Texas Special Court of Review issued 2 public reprimands to a former judge for (1) for ordering children removed from their mothers’ custody and given to their father in the absence of a verified pleading or affidavit and (2)(a) inappropriately touching another judge and 2 court clerks at a social function and sending the other judge an offensive text message and (b) making disparaging comments about the county district attorney’s office in court in 2 cases. In re Inquiry Concerning Williams, Opinion (Texas Special Court of Review May 17, 2019).
  • Based on the findings and recommendation of the Judicial Conduct Commission, the Utah Supreme Court suspended a judge for 6 months without pay for (1) “seemingly shirty and politically charged comments to a defendant in his courtroom;” (2) losing his temper with a member of the court’s staff and using his authority to seek her removal from the premises; and (3) a Facebook post that was critical of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. In re Kwan (Utah Supreme Court May 22, 2019).
  • Accepting the recommendation of the Judicial Hearing Board, based on an agreement, which references the formal statement of charges, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals censured and reprimanded a former supreme court justice for (1) not being candid when he told a reporter during an interview that he had “very little” input in the renovation and furnishing of his office; (2) having 2 new computers and a printer owned by the Court installed in his home that were used primarily for personal purposes by the justice, his wife, and/or his son; (3) using a Court-owned vehicle for at least 4 personal trips; and (4) his conviction by a federal jury of 10 felony counts, most related to his personal use of state vehicles; the Court also annulled his license to practice law in the state, permanently enjoined him from seeking public office by election or appointment in the state, fined him $3,000, and ordered that he pay costs of $5,871.12. In the Matter of Loughry, Order (West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals May 16, 2019).
  • Based on the recommendation of a judicial conduct panel after the judge admitted the allegations in the complaint filed by the Judicial Commission, the Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended a judge for 5 days without pay for (1) initiating an ex parte communication with a prosecutor about plea negotiations in 1 case and (2) independently investigating a defendant on the internet prior to sentencing in a second case. Judicial Commission v. Piontek, Opinion (Wisconsin Supreme Court May 21, 2019).

 

 

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