Recent cases

  • The Alabama Court of the Judiciary suspended a judge’s salary for 3 months and publicly censured him for, while on the bench and dressed in his judicial robe, threatening that he would take action against the defendant in a traffic ticket case if she sued his adult son, losing his temper, yelling profanity, and calling the defendant disparaging names; the Court also ordered the judge to complete 12 hours of judicial education, issue a formal written apology to the defendant, and pay costs.  In the Matter of Price, Final judgment (Alabama Court of the Judiciary June 15, 2021).
  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for repeatedly failing to abide by administrative orders regarding the use of face coverings in court facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic and for refusing to regularly review his court emails; the Commission also ordered the judge to review a podcast about pandemic-related issues and the duty to abide by administrative orders presented in August 2020 to justice court judges. Goodman, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct May 13, 2021).
  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for speaking sharply to court staff when she was disconnected from a Zoom hearing and yelling when lawyers and parties were allowed into the courtroom prior to the scheduled time for a case in a separate incident; the Commission also ordered the judge to complete the courses “Leadership for Judges” and “Mindfulness for Judges” offered by the National Judicial College. Quickle, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct June 11, 2021).
  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for failing to issue a timely ruling in 1 case and signing a payroll certification while knowing that the ruling was overdue. Jantzen, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct June 11, 2021).
  • Accepting the findings and recommendation of the Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission based on an agreement, the Arkansas Supreme Court suspended a judge for 90 days without pay for asking a public defender if she was going to file another complaint against him if he did not accept a plea negotiation; the Court held 60 days of the suspension in abeyance for 1 year conditioned on the judge attending a class on mindfulness, patience, or civility, on the judge consulting with a counselor or life coach about how to treat the professionals appearing in his court, and on the Commission receiving no complaints that result in public charges or agreed discipline. Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission v. Sims (Arkansas Supreme Court June 3, 2021).
  • Accepting a motion for consent discipline based on a joint stipulation and memorandum, the Louisiana Supreme Court publicly censured a Supreme Court Justice for a meeting that interfered with and/or had the potential to interfere with the relationship between a candidate in a highly contested campaign for a different seat on the Court and a worker in the candidate’s campaign. In re Hughes (Louisiana Supreme Court June 30, 2021).
  • Adopting in part the recommendations, findings, and conclusions of the Judicial Tenure Commission, the Michigan Supreme Court imposed a 6-year suspension without pay on a former judge if he is elected or appointed to judicial office during the next 6 years for (1) while he was a prosecutor, depositing county funds into his and his family’s personal bank accounts and failing to keep any records related to those funds; (2) pleading no-contest to a crime and subsequently making false statements about the plea; (3) failing to disclose his relationships with 3 attorneys when he presided over cases in which they appeared or to disqualify himself from those cases; and (4) testifying falsely before the Commission. In re Konschuh, Order (Michigan Supreme Court June 11, 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 an investigation of allegations that a non-lawyer judge had conveyed the impression of bias against LGBTQ individuals and publicly posted on his personal Facebook page anti-LGBTQ content, expressions of anti-Muslim bias, partisan political content, expressions of bias in favor of law enforcement and against criminal defendants, and commentary on pending cases, including the murder trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin. In the Matter of Knutsen, Decision and order (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 10, 2021).
  • Accepting a stipulation based on the judge’s affirmation that she has vacated her office and will not seek or accept judicial office in the future, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct concluded an investigation of allegations that the judge had (1) pushed a county assistant district attorney outside her courtroom one evening when court was in session and the courtroom was full of lawyers, litigants, and others; (2) accused a different county assistant district attorney of being “anti-Semitic” when they would not offer a lenient plea to an associate of the judge’s husband in a traffic matter; (3) turned court audio recording equipment on and off in the middle of proceedings; (4) presided over and took pleas in traffic matters without an assistant district attorney present; (5) locked the court while she traveled to prevent the associate village court justice from presiding over matters in her absence; (6) exhibited inappropriate demeanor on the bench and in interactions with assistant district attorneys and other attorneys and litigants; and (7) a matter revealed in an audit of the court’s finances. In the Matter of Fishkin, Decision and order (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 10, 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 complaint alleging that a non-lawyer judge, who took office in January 2020, had (1) continued to work as town justice despite failing to attend the Office of Court Administration training program for town and village court judges, failing to pass the required examination, and failing to be certified as required by court rules and (2) failed to cooperate in the Commission investigation. In the Matter of Novak, Decision and order (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 11, 2021).
  • Adopting the recommendation of the Judicial Standards Commission, which was based on stipulations, the North Carolina Supreme Court publicly censured a former judge for a pattern of inappropriate and sexual communications on Facebook with numerous women, many of whom were involved in matters pending in his district; engaging in these communications while on the bench in the courtroom; taking frequent breaks, frequently continuing cases, and frequently recusing himself to have conversations or physical encounters with the women he contacted on Facebook; making misrepresentations and misusing the prestige of office to solicit assistance from law enforcement during an investigation of an attempt to extort him by one of the women; and making material misrepresentations to the Commission. In re Pool (North Carolina Supreme Court June 11, 2021).
  • Based on its findings of misconduct, the Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline suspended a judge for 6 months without pay for (1) failing to file opinions in 24 appeals within the fast track time limits established by court rule in dependency and termination of parental rights proceedings; (2) incarcerating parents for contempt without a legal basis in 3 cases; detaining parents in holding cells with the threat of longer incarceration without a legal basis in 2 cases; threatening to incarcerate parents in the absence of any evidence of contempt in 1 case; and improperly holding an attorney in civil contempt; (3) in numerous dependency and termination of parental rights proceedings, exhibiting an angry, arrogant, demeaning, rude, dismissive, condescending, callous, and impatient demeanor; (4) repeatedly failing to accord the right to be heard to parents and guardians, to lawyers representing parents and guardians, and to the Department of Human Services; deciding issues without hearing testimony or holding hearings; refusing to admit medical reports; repeatedly interrupting testimony; and rushing a non-placement review hearing; and (5) during several dependency hearings, applying the standard for permanency hearings. In re Younge, Opinion and order (Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline June 2, 2021). The Court also placed the judge on probation until the end of her current term in January 2026; prohibited the judge from serving in the family court division during her probation; ordered the judge to consult with a mentor; and ordered her to write and deliver a letter of apology to each person she wronged.
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for setting “no bond” on a misdemeanor motion to revoke probation without addressing the statutory factors for setting bail and for engaging in impermissible ex parte communications with the probationer and others concerning the merits of the proceeding; the Commission also ordered that the judge receive 2 hours of additional education concerning judicial ethics and criminal procedure with a mentor. Public Admonition of Lilly and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 18, 2021).

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