Recent cases

  • The California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished a judge for (1) displaying improper demeanor toward 2 criminal defense attorneys appearing by phone for an arraignment and (2) in a second case, making an inappropriate remark about the jury’s verdict to a defendant who had been acquitted.  In the Matter Concerning Connolly, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance April 2, 2021).
  • Based on a stipulation and the recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Discipline, the Colorado Supreme Court accepted the resignation of a judge and publicly censured her for (1) saying the N-word in a conversation with a Black staff member; (2) expressing her views about criminal justice, police brutality, race, and racial bias while wearing her robe in court staff work areas and on the bench; (3) using court staff for personal tasks; and (4) referring to a judicial colleague with a derogatory term.  In the Matter of Chase, Order (Colorado Supreme Court April 16, 2021). 
  • Based on an agreement, the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission suspended a judge for 7 days without pay for (1) requiring defendants in criminal cases to file written demands for jury trials; (2) making impatient, undignified, and discourteous comments to attorneys with the public defender’s office; and (3) in a proceeding with an unrepresented defendant, suggesting a plea agreement that could reasonably be perceived as coercive for the defendant.  In re Ruttle, Agreed order of suspension (Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission April 7, 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 former judge; the Commission had apprised the judge that it was investigating allegations that he had attempted to have a purported friend’s pistol permit application assigned to himself and then initiated a conversation about the matter with the judge to whom the case had been assigned.  In the Matter of Carter, Decision and order (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct April 22, 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 former judge; prior to his resignation, the Commission had notified the judge that it was investigating complaints that he had (1) dismissed or reduced tickets in multiple cases for defendants with whom he had personal relationships; (2) repeatedly described female litigants and lawyers in demeaning and sexist terms; and (3) improperly used a security camera to record proceedings in his courtroom.  In the Matter of Gallanter, Decision and order (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct April 22, 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 former non-lawyer judge; before the judge resigned, the Commission had notified him that it was investigating complaints that he had repeatedly engaged in unauthorized ex parte communications and gave the appearance of bias in a small claims case.  In the Matter of Hartwell, Decision and order (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct April 22, 2021).
  • Accepting a stipulation based on the judge’s affirmation that he has vacated his 2 judicial offices and will not seek or accept judicial office in the future, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct concluded a proceeding against a former judge who had pled guilty to criminal contempt in satisfaction of charges related to his violation of a stay-away order of protection held by a former girlfriend.  In the Matter of Miller, Decision and order (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct April 22, 2021).
  • Accepting an agreed statement of facts and recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a non-lawyer judge for knowingly making materially false statements regarding a grant in a report filed with the court system and using unexpended grant funds to buy an audio-visual system even though he knew that the purchase was unauthorized.  In the Matter of Knab, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct April 28, 2021).
  • Adopting the findings and conclusions of the Judicial Standards Commission, based on a stipulation and agreement, the North Carolina Supreme Court suspended a judge for 30 days without pay for serving as executor for the estates of 2 former clients who were not members of his family, collecting substantial fees or commissions for such service, and failing to properly report that income.  In re Inquiry Concerning Brooks (North Carolina Supreme Court April 16, 2021).
  • 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 further disciplinary proceedings against a former judge who had entered into orders of deferred adjudication of 3 felonies in 2 state criminal cases regarding a pyramid promotional scheme.  Velez, Voluntary agreement to resign from judicial office in lieu of disciplinary action (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct April 9, 2021).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned a judge for attending a luncheon hosted and paid for by a law firm involved in a highly contested civil case pending before her and set for post-judgment matters the following day and failing to disclose the luncheon to all parties in the litigation; the Commission also ordered the judge to obtain 2 hours of instruction with a mentor.  Public Warning of Phillips and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct April 9, 2021).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for orally ordering a defendant to perform community service without entering a written order and, when she failed to complete her community service, issuing a warrant for her arrest without giving her notice and an opportunity to be heard; the Commission also ordered the judge to obtain 4 hours of instruction with a mentor.  Public Admonition of Issacs and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct April 9, 2021).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for (1) while at the jail to magistrate an African-American defendant, stating that the defendant needs to be hung “with a f***ing noose around his neck” and (2) without jurisdiction, determining the right to possession of a trailer in an ex parte letter; the Commission also ordered the judge to obtain 11 hours of instruction with a mentor.  Public Reprimand of Baldwin and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct April 9, 2021).
  • Based on a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for (1) at the end of a calendar, declining to determine who was attempting to appear in court via Zoom; (2) failing to advise defendants at probation review hearings of their rights; (3) conducting an ex parte investigation into whether a defendant had performed community service hours and stating on the record that she intended to recommend significant jail time and further charges; (4) at arraignment hearings in 2 traffic offense cases, asking the defendants whether they had a valid driver’s license and how long it had been since they had a valid driver’s license; (5) as she sat on cases on the bench, regularly recommending specific businesses to defendants for re-licensing and insurance purposes related to their charges; and (6) regularly presiding over cases in which a notice of disqualification had previously been filed against her.  In re Burchett, Stipulation, agreement, and order of reprimand (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct April 23, 2021).

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