Recent cases

  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for entering an ex parte order in a criminal matter from which he had recused himself.  Jantzen, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct May 13, 2019).
  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for, during a drug court hearing, saying, “sit on my lap if you want . . . no, no I take that back” to a female participant when she seemed confused about where to sit or stand when her case was called.  Fell, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct June 10, 2019).
  • Based on a joint statement of circumstances and conditional agreement for discipline, the Indiana Supreme Court suspended a judge without pay for 45 days for appointing an unqualified friend as trustee of a trust and personal representative of a related estate, failing to disclose the friendship and his financial relationship with the friend, and failing to respond promptly to evidence his friend was embezzling the funds.  In the Matter of Freese, Per curiam opinion (Indiana Supreme Court June 4, 2019).
  • Based on the findings, conclusions, and recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Disabilities, the Maryland Court of Appeals suspended a judge for 6 months without pay for (1) abdicating her duty to handle and process search warrant materials, as required by statute, and instructing a law clerk to destroy warrant materials and (2) failing to treat fellow judges and courthouse staff with dignity and respect, including repeatedly yelling at court clerks and judges, subjecting court clerks to line-ups when clerical mistakes were made, physically pushing a clerk, and repeatedly attempting to undermine the authority of the administrative judge.  In the Matter of Russell, Opinion (Maryland Court of Appeals June 28, 2019).  The Court conditioned the judge’s reinstatement on her undergoing emotional and behavioral assessment by a health care professional and completion of an approved course on judicial ethics.
  • Adopting the findings of fact and conclusions of law of the Judicial Tenure Commission, the Michigan Supreme Court removed a judge from office for (1) failing to disclose the extent of her relationship with a police detective who was a witness in a trial over which she presided; (2) failing to disclose the extent of her relationship with an attorney when the attorney or her law firm appeared in several cases over which the judge presided; (3) failing to immediately disqualify herself from her own divorce proceeding and destroying evidence; (4) making false statements (a) during court proceedings over which she presided, (b) to the Commission while under oath, and (c) while testifying at her deposition under oath in her divorce proceeding; (5) being persistently impatient, undignified, and discourteous to those appearing before her; (6) requiring her staff to perform personal tasks during work hours; (7) allowing her staff to work on her judicial campaign during work hours; and (8) improperly interrupting 2 depositions that she attended during her divorce proceeding; the Court also barred her from exercising the power of her office for 6 years without pay if she were to be elected or appointed to judicial office during that time.  In re Brennan (Michigan Supreme Court June 19, 2019).
  • Adopting the findings and recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct, based on stipulations, the New Jersey Supreme Court publicly censured a former judge for directing that money from a municipal DWI fund be disbursed to him without the required pre-approval from his assignment judge; the Court also permanently barred him from judicial office and ordered that he pay restitution of $11,995.85 to the state.  In the Matter of Corradino (New Jersey Supreme Court June 5, 2019).
  • Based on the judge’s resignation and agreement to be disqualified from judicial service in the state, the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct agreed not to pursue further disciplinary proceedings against a former judge; the Commission had received 2 complaints alleging that the judge had sexually harassed a woman and/or engaged in a sexual relationship with a woman employed by the county, which the judge denied.  Sutherland, Voluntary agreement to resign from judicial office in lieu of disciplinary action (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 6, 2019).
  • Based on a formal complaint, to which the judge stipulated, the Vermont Judicial Conduct Board publicly reprimanded a judge for, in small claims cases, issuing arrest warrants for judgment debtors without due process, financial disclosure hearings, or contempt hearings; setting “purge amounts” on the arrest warrants without a finding about the judgment debtor’s ability to pay; and continuing financial disclosure hearings on a rolling, on-going basis even after a judgment debtor’s present inability to pay had been demonstrated by sufficient evidence.  In re Vance, Public reprimand with order (Vermont Judicial Conduct Board May 28, 2019).

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