Recent cases

  • Following a hearing on a complaint filed by the Judicial Inquiry Commission, the Alabama Court of the Judiciary publicly reprimanded a judge for initiating and considering ex parte communications with a mother and father about pending child custody and visitation issues.  In the Matter of Wiggins, Final judgment (Alabama Court of the Judiciary November 18, 2019).
  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for, after his dismissal of a civil suit was overturned on appeal, speaking to the plaintiff in a condescending and mocking tone and attempting to dissuade her from exercising her right to a jury trial.  McMurry, Amended order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct November 8, 2019).
  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a special master for proposing that her domestic partner act as a third party neutral in a family law matter without disclosing the relationship.  Paus, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct November 8, 2019).
  • The California Commission on Judicial Performance removed a judge from office for (1) remanding a defendant into custody without resetting bail in open court and engaging in an ex parte communication with the deputy district attorney about the case; (2) engaging in a pattern of conduct toward a deputy public defender that was unwelcome, undignified, discourteous, and offensive; (3) making unwelcome, undignified, discourteous, and offensive comments to and about other female attorneys who appeared before him; (4) making unwelcome, undignified, discourteous, and offensive comments to his court reporter and female defendants; (5) revoking a criminal defendant’s own recognizance release in the defendant’s absence without affording him or his attorney notice and the opportunity to be heard and creating the appearance that he was retaliating for the filing of a peremptory challenge against him by the defendant’s attorney; and (6) failing to always disclose his son’s employment in the district attorney’s office.  Inquiry Concerning Laettner, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance November 6, 2019).
  • Based on the findings and recommendation of the Judicial Qualifications Commission and a stipulation, the Florida Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for her comments in 2 criminal cases.  Inquiry Concerning Lemonidis (Florida Supreme Court November 14, 2019).  The Court also agreed that the judge should continue to participate in stress management counseling.
  • Following a hearing, the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission publicly reprimanded a former judge for intervening on behalf of her ex-husband after he was arrested on several criminal charges including possession of a controlled substance, and texting an ex parte communication to a Commission member just before the hearing.  In re Maze, Findings, conclusions, and final order (Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission November 7, 2019).
  • Based on a presentment by the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct, the New Jersey Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for a series of aggressive, ex parte emails on New Year’s Eve to a prosecutor about scheduling a trial; a hostile ex parte exchange with the prosecutor in the courtroom; and creating a conflict that required reassignment of the case.  In the Matter of Jones-Tucker, Order (New Jersey Supreme Court November 20, 2019).
  • Based on a petition to accept a stipulation to permanent resignation from judicial office in lieu of further proceedings, the New Mexico Supreme Court ordered a former judge to never again hold or become a candidate for any judicial office in New Mexico; the Judicial Standards Commission had filed a notice of formal proceedings, which the judge contested, alleging that the judge had violated defendants’ due process rights; failed to follow the law and court procedures regarding contempt, warrants, bond, and conditions of release; and engaged in ex parte communications.  In the Matter of Harrison, Order (New Mexico Supreme Court November 5, 2019).
  • Based on findings of misconduct, the Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline suspended a judge for 45 days without pay and fined him $5,000 for (1) viewing images of naked and partially naked women while in his office and (2) having judicial employees grade papers and make copies of handouts on the court’s copier for classes he was teaching.  In re Muth, Opinion and order (Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline November 8, 2019).  The Court also placed him on probation for 1 year, conditioned on his undergoing “a psychological and psychosocial assessment by a licensed psychologist to determine the cognitive, behavioral, and emotional motivation leading to the inappropriate sexualized behavior” and completing any recommended treatment recommendations.
  • Based on an agreement, the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for sharing partisan posts on Facebook on issues such as the credibility of federal agencies; professional athletes kneeling during the national anthem; the effect of undocumented immigrants on the economy; the Democratic party platform; support for or opposition to presidential candidates; the Black Lives Matter movement; media bias; fatal shootings by police officers; anti-Jihadist sentiment; transgender bathrooms and boys in girls’ locker rooms; and undocumented immigrants voting in Virginia.  Lammey (Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct November 15, 2019).  The judge also agreed to complete a program addressing ethical issues and social media; to refrain from making comments or disseminating posts substantially similar to those that were the subject of the reprimand; and to keep his social media platforms “private.”
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned a judge for refusing to perform same-sex weddings while continuing to perform opposite-sex weddings.  Public Warning of Hensley (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct November 12, 2019).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned a judge for his comments to a newspaper reporter and in a letter to the editor about young black defendants.  Public Warning of McSpadden (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct November 12, 2019).
  • Based on a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for, without notice or a reasonable evidentiary basis, entering an order in a case to which he was not assigned that gratuitously attacked the character of 2 attorneys.  In re Spanner, Stipulation, agreement, and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct November 22, 2019).  The judge also agreed to participate in 4 hours of judicial ethics training.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s