Recent cases

  • The California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished a former judge for (1) treating parents and others in a harsh and discourteous manner in 10 dependency hearings; and (2) on consecutive days, yelling at court staff and displaying frustration about an internet outage and discourteously raising her voice to another judge.  Public Admonishment of Roberts (California Commission on Judicial Performance February 18, 2021).
  • With the judge’s approval, the Kansas Commission on Judicial Conduct ordered a judge to cease and desist from failing to perform judicial duties competently and diligently and from delaying his decisions.  Inquiry Concerning Tate, Order (Kansas Commission on Judicial Conduct January 20, 2021).
  • Affirming the findings of fact and conclusions of law of a panel of the Commission on Judicial Conduct following a hearing, the Kansas Supreme Court suspended a judge without pay for 1 year for (1) frequently using the word “f**k” and its derivatives when speaking at the courthouse; (2) using derogatory terms when referring to women; and (3) using the phrase “Kansas boy” to describe a young black male defendant; the Court stayed the suspension for 60 days for the judge to submit a plan for counseling and training.  In the Matter of Cullins (Kansas Supreme Court February 26, 2021).
  • Based on an agreement and stipulated facts, the Kansas Commission on Judicial Conduct ordered that a former judge cease and desist from inappropriately using the prestige of judicial office and acting in a manner that does not promote confidence in the integrity of the judiciary and to continue his retirement and not hold a judicial office in the future; the judge had asked the county sheriff’s office not to service a summons/petition in a divorce case and had a profane and threatening conversation with an undersheriff about the incident.  Inquiry Concerning Smith, Order (Kansas Commission on Judicial Conduct February 25, 2021).
  • Adopting in part the recommendation of the Judiciary Commission based on a statement of stipulated facts and conclusions of law, the Louisiana Supreme Court suspended a judge for 2 years without pay for grabbing the buttocks of a waitress at his bachelor party while intoxicated and failing to cooperate with police, for which he had been convicted of several misdemeanors; the Court deferred all but 6 months of the suspension and the 6 months was made retroactive to the date of his suspension as an attorney; the deferral was subject to the judge successfully completing a 5-year Judges and Lawyers Assistance Programs monitoring agreement.  In re Hardee, Opinion (Louisiana Supreme Court January 27, 2021).
  • Based on the judge’s consent, the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline publicly admonished a judge for acting in a manner unbecoming a judicial officer towards court staff and the chief judge on numerous occasions.  In the Matter of Earley, Stipulation and order (Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline January 21, 2021).
  • Adopting the findings and recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct, which the judge accepted, the New Jersey Supreme Court suspended a judge for 10 months without pay for, during and after a criminal trial, failing to follow fundamental principles of criminal procedure; “fashion[ing] a remedy outside of accepted statutory and ethical norms” without entering guilty findings; using an expletive when the court administrator advised her that there was no authority for her disposition; engaging in “combative” ex parte communications when the defendants did not meet their restitution obligations; and suggesting that the victim file a civil suit against the defendants; the suspension was made retroactive to the date of the judge’s temporary suspension, and her resumption of duties was conditioned on her compliance with a plan regarding professional development.  In the Matter of Rasul, Order (New Jersey Supreme Court February 16, 2021).
  • Accepting a stipulation based on the judge’s affirmation that he has vacated his office and will not seek or accept judicial office in the future, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct concluded a proceeding against a non-lawyer judge who had pled guilty to criminal mischief for keying a town official’s vehicle in a parking lot, “apparently in reaction to the town’s denial of his request to provide health insurance.”  In the Matter of Burker, Decision and order (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct January 28, 2021).
  • Accepting a stipulation based on the judge’s affirmation that she vacated her office and will not seek or accept judicial office in the future, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct concluded a proceeding against a judge who had been charged in a formal written complaint with, inter alia, presiding “notwithstanding a disqualifying conflict with a party or witness but fail[ing] to disclose and/or recuse herself as required.”  In the Matter of Ward, Decision and order (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct January 28, 2021).
  • Accepting a stipulation based on the judge’s affirmation that he has vacated his office and will not seek or accept judicial office in the future, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct concluded its investigation of allegations that a non-lawyer judge had, between December 2019 and March 2020, engaged in inappropriate conduct in his courthouse that was inconsistent with his ethical obligations to act in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary and to conduct his extra-judicial activities so as not to detract from the dignity of his judicial office and had failed to respond to the Commission inquiry.  In the Matter of Cunningham, Decision and order (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct January 28, 2021).
  • Based on her agreement to resign and not seek an appointed or elected judicial office in the future, the Tennessee Judicial Conduct Board agreed not to pursue formal charges against a judicial commissioner for discourteously and intemperately injecting herself into a criminal case involving a family member.  In re Tomlinson (Tennessee Judicial Conduct Board February 1, 2021).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for, in a post-judgement collection matter, improperly issuing a show cause order for a defendant based on the plaintiff’s oral motion for contempt and failing to ensure that the defendant had notice and an opportunity to respond to the motion; the Commission also ordered the judge to obtain 4 hours of education with a mentor.  Public Reprimand of Jones and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct January 28, 2021), appealed to special court of review.
  • Following a hearing, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for appearing in bus advertisements for a college that identified him as a judge.  In re Keenan, Decision and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct February 5, 2021).
  • The West Virginia Judicial Investigation Commission publicly admonished a judge for comments she made on her Facebook page about a pharmacist arrested for destroying COVID-19 vaccine dosages and about the siege at the U.S. Capitol.  In the Matter of Jackson, Public admonishment (West Virginia Judicial Investigation Commission February 24, 2021).

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