State judicial discipline in 2020: Top stories of 2020

In 2020, as a result of approximately 127 public state judicial discipline proceedings:

  • 11 judges were removed from office.
  • 5 former judges were barred from serving in office again.  1 of those former judges was also suspended from the practice of law for 1 year.  2 were also publicly censured, fined $1,000 each, and permanently barred from public office.  1 was also publicly censured and barred from public office for 10 years.
  • 13 judges or former judges resigned or retired in lieu of discipline pursuant to public agreements with conduct commissions.
  • 7 judges were suspended without pay as a final sanction for 14 days to 6 months, although the 6-month suspension was stayed conditioned on the judge completing 2 hours of education and engaging in no further misconduct.  There were 3 suspensions for 30 days (1 also included a reprimand; 1 included a reprimand and $1,000 fine).  1 judge was suspended for 3 months.  1 judge was suspended for 90 days, reprimanded, and fined $2,000.
  • Approximately 7 of the cases involved former judges.  In approximately 15 of those cases, the judge was also ordered to obtain additional education, training, mentoring, or counseling.
  • 1 former judge was disbarred and 2 former judges had their law licenses suspended in attorney discipline proceedings for conduct while they were judges.  The suspensions were for 6 months, although 1 of those suspensions was stayed conditioned on the former judge completing 4 hours of education and engaging in no further misconduct.
  • In 2 cases, the judicial conduct commission made public findings of misconduct but did not impose a sanction.
  • 1 judge was retired for disability.

This count does not include approximately 8 cases currently pending on review.  Approximately 1/3 of the sanctions were entered pursuant to an agreement.  “Judge” refers to any type of judicial officer, whether full-time or part-time, including supreme court and appellate court justices, justices of the peace, magistrates, court commissioners, and hearing officers.

See also State judicial discipline in 2019.

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