Fall Judicial Conduct Reporter

The fall issue of the Judicial Conduct Reporter has been published.  The issue has articles on:

  • Judicial ethics in landlord/tenant cases
  • Interim suspensions pending discipline proceedings or criminal charges
  • Encouraging pro bono services
  • Recent cases
    • Independent investigation:  Commission on Judicial Performance v. Bozeman (Mississippi 2020)
    • Orchestrated release:  Disciplinary Counsel v. Goulding (Ohio 2020)
    • Solar opposition:  Public Warning of Plaster (Texas Commission 2020)

The first article discusses cases in which judges have been disciplined for their conduct in landlord/tenant cases.  It begins with cases in which legal error has been found to constitute judicial misconduct because the judges did not follow the procedures that ensure that tenants and landlords both have an opportunity to be heard.  Next, it summarizes cases in which judges have been disciplined for ex parte communications in eviction matters, sometimes with the landlord, sometimes with the tenant, and sometimes even without a case being filed.  Finally, the article lists cases involving other types of misconduct in landlord/tenant cases.

The article on interim suspension explains that, in over half the states, a judge can be suspended with pay pending the resolution of allegations of misconduct and that over 30 states have constitutional provisions, statutes, or rules that authorize the suspension of a judge with pay pending the outcome of criminal proceedings.  It then describes how that suspension authority differs from state to state based on which authority can suspend the judge—the judicial conduct commission or the supreme court; the stage of the process at which a suspension be imposed—any time or after a formal complaint is filed; what notice and opportunity to be heard the judge receives; whether disciplinary proceedings are expedited when a judge is suspended; and the criterion for when an interim suspension is warranted.

The article on encouraging pro bono services discusses the code and advisory opinions that approve judicial efforts to increase lawyer participation in pro bono programs and the caveats conditioning that permission.

The Judicial Conduct Reporter is published electronically, and an index and current and past issues of the Reporter are available on-line.  Anyone can sign up to receive notice when a new issue is available.

In addition, the Center for Judicial Ethics has posted 3 online CourtClass tutorials.

  • Judges and court staff participating in marches and demonstrations:  In less than 30 minutes, the presentation covers the key points for all employees of the judicial branch, judges and non-judges alike. 
  • Ex parte communications:  The 11-minute presentation introduces this core rule of the code of judicial conduct and discusses judicial discipline cases applying its principles.
  • Ability to pay hearings:  In approximately 35 minutes, the presentation covers the essential constitutional, ethical, and practical aspects of conducting ability to pay hearings in connection with court-ordered financial obligations and bail. 

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