State judicial discipline in 2019

In 2019, as a result of state disciplinary proceedings, 2 judges were removed from office.  (2 other judges were removed by conduct commissions, but those decisions were under review at the end of the year and, therefore, not included in the count for 2019.)  In addition, 15 judges or former judges resigned or retired in lieu of discipline pursuant to public agreements with conduct commissions; 1 of those former judges was also reprimanded.  2 judges were retired for disability.

16 judges were suspended without pay as a final sanction.  The suspensions ranged from 5 days to 1 year, although the 1-year suspension was stayed conditioned on the judge engaging in no further misconduct.  The other suspensions were for 7 days, 3 weeks, 28 days, 30 days (3 judges), 45 days (3 judges), 60 days (3 judges), 90 days, and 6 months (3 judges).  The 90-day suspension also included a $5,000 fine and public reprimand; one 45-day suspension also included a $5,000 fine; one 30-day suspension also included a $500 fine and public reprimand; the 28-day suspension also included a public censure.  The reinstatement of one of the judges suspended for 60 days was conditioned on her undergoing an emotional and behavioral assessment by a health care professional and completing a judicial ethics course.

86 judges (or former judges in 11 cases) received public censures, reprimands, admonishments, warnings, or letters of counsel.

  • There were 16 censures, 1 of which was severe. In addition to being censured, 1 former judge was barred from serving in judicial office in the state; 1 former judge was permanently barred from serving in judicial office in the state and ordered to pay restitution; 1 former judge’s law license was annulled, he was permanently enjoined from seeking public office in the state, fined $3,000, and reprimanded; 2 former judges were permanently enjoined from serving in public office and fined $1,000; and 1 judge was ordered to attend a course at the National Judicial College.
  • There were 36 reprimands. 1 reprimand included a $5,000 fine; 1 included a $1,683 fine; 2 included $500 fines; and 10 included requirements such as mentoring, training, stress management, probation, compliance with a lawyers assistance program agreement, or a psychological assessment.
  • There were 20 public admonishments. In several cases, the admonishments included conditions such as training.
  • There were 9 public warnings. 1 also ordered additional education.
  • 1 letter of counsel was made public with the judge’s consent.
  • 1 retired judge was suspended from eligibility as a reserve judge for 3 years
  • 3 former judges had their law licenses suspended in attorney discipline proceedings for conduct while they were judges. 1 suspension was indefinite; 1 was for 6 months; 1 was for 1 year with 6 months stayed.

“Judge” refers to any type of judicial officer including justices, magistrates, court commissioners, and hearing officers, whether full-time or part-time.  Approximately half of the sanctions were entered pursuant to an agreement with the judge or former judge.

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