Recent cases

  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for telling court staff that he left the priesthood because there was “no pan ocha [sic],” which he believed meant “brown sugar” but which is slang for the female anatomy.  Pollard, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct September 15, 2020).
  • Based on an agreement, the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission publicly reprimanded a judge for intemperate conduct in 2 criminal cases on the same date.  In re Conley, Public reprimand (Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission September 9, 2020).
  • Based on an agreement, the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission suspended a judge for 14 days without pay for failing to recuse herself from a case involving an attorney whom she accused of stealing from her husband, threatening that the attorney was “not going to be conflicted out forever,” and improperly pressuring the clerk and another judge to refuse to provide a video of the proceeding to the attorney.  In re Dutton, Agreed order of suspension (Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission September 4, 2020).
  • Granting a joint motion for approval of a recommendation, the Mississippi Supreme Court suspended a judge for 30 days without pay, publicly reprimanded her, and fined her $1,000 for (1) initiating improper ex parte communications with a third party to investigate a pending civil matter, (2) failing to comply with the statutory limits on money judgments in justice court, and (3) retaliating against a court clerk for filing a complaint with the Commission.  Commission on Judicial Performance v. Bozeman (Mississippi Supreme Court September 24, 2020).
  • Based on a stipulation and the judge’s consent, the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline publicly admonished a judge for giving a “Gag Order, Esquire” patch to a female judge and 4 female staff members and stating during a meeting that the other judge had “erotic” or “risqué” coloring books in her chambers.  In the Matter of Potter, Stipulation and order of consent to public admonishment (Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline September 30, 2020).
  • Accepting a stipulation based the judge’s resignation and his affirmation that he will not seek or accept judicial office in the future, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct terminated a proceeding against a judge; following a hearing on a formal complaint, a referee had found that the judge (1) had approximately 10 conversations with a court employee in and outside the workplace about his campaign for surrogate, repeatedly asking her to consider working on his campaign even after she declined; (2) kissed the employee twice in his chambers without her consent when her transfer was announced; (3) expressed interest in dating a second court employee several times and kissed her 3 times on the cheek without her consent after she told him that her father had been diagnosed with cancer; and (4) falsely denied in his deposition during the Commission investigation that he had expressed romantic interest in the second employee.  In the Matter of Hanuszczak, Decision and order (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 17, 2020).
  • Accepting a stipulation based the judge’s resignation and his affirmation that he will not seek or accept judicial office in the future, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct terminated a proceeding against a judge; the Commission had notified the judge that it was investigating complaints that his demeanor toward and treatment of his court clerks caused 3 or 4 of them to resign and that he had warned residents of a youth home of the consequences of misbehavior at the home, including the possibility of jail time, in the absence of counsel for the youth, while presiding over their cases.  In the Matter of Madden, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 21, 2020).
  • Accepting an agreed statement of facts and recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a non-lawyer for issuing a warrant of eviction against a tenant after an ex parte proceeding even though neither the judge nor the tenant had been presented with a notice of petition, a petition, or an affidavit of service as required by law; calling the tenant a “deadbeat;” and failing to record the proceeding.  In the Matter of Knopf, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 23, 2020).
  • Adopting the findings and recommended sanction of the Board of Professional Conduct, based on stipulations, the Ohio Supreme Court suspended a judge for 6 months for interfering in a case assigned to another judge involving the incarcerated boyfriend of the daughter of his friends, engaging in ex parte communications with the boyfriend, and “orchestrating” his release on a recognizance bond 2 days before his scheduled arraignment; the Court stayed the suspension conditioned on the judge completing 2 hours of CLE on judicial ethics and engaging in no further misconduct.  Disciplinary Counsel v. Goulding (Ohio Supreme Court September 29, 2020).
  • Based on the judge’s consent, the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for stating that, “the Grand Wizard of our Supreme Court said we have to wear these masks,” or words to that effect, to a courtroom audience of criminal defendants, some of whom were African-American.  Re Ledsinger (Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct September 28, 2020).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a former judge for independently investigating allegations by 2 defense attorneys in a murder trial that another attorney had sent their client an anonymous letter, summoning the attorney to court without notice and questioning her, and holding a second proceeding about the allegations without the attorney present.  Public Admonition of Contreras (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 8, 2020), on appeal.
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for displaying a handgun during a public confrontation in a residential neighborhood, contrary to Texas law.  Public Reprimand of Williams (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 8, 2020).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for approaching a paralegal in the courtroom, grabbing her arm or elbow, and admonishing her for sitting in a section of the courtroom reserved for attorneys; the Commission also ordered the judge to complete 2 hours of instruction with a mentor.  Public Admonition of Wilson (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 8, 2020), on appeal.
  • 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 disciplinary proceedings against a former judge; the Commission had received a complaint alleging that the judge had denied an attorney access to his client prior to and at magistration and, during its investigation, learned that the judge had been serving as a full-time licensed police officer since July 2015.  Martinez, Voluntary agreement to resign from judicial office in lieu of disciplinary action (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct July 23, 2020).

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