Recent cases

  • Based on stipulations of fact about the judge’s campaign flyers and digital placards on Facebook, a hearing panel of the Kansas Commission on Judicial Conduct ordered a judge to cease and desist from using photos of himself or his dog in his courtroom in campaign materials and from making misleading statements about his opponent.  Inquiry Concerning Hatfield (Kansas Commission on Judicial Conduct July 16, 2021).
  • The Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission publicly reprimanded a former master commissioner for (1) misappropriating $81,000 in proceeds from a property sale and (2) routinely failing to timely collect and disburse the proceeds of judicial sales.  In re Schmidt, Findings of fact, conclusions of law, and final order (Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission July 13, 2021).
  • Granting a petition based on a stipulation, the New Mexico Supreme Court approved the resignation of a judge; in a notice of formal proceedings, the Judicial Standards Commission had alleged that the judge (1) failed to recuse from cases filed by the police department in which her ex-husband and co-habitant was chief of police and in which police officers over whom he exercises supervisory duties appeared and (2) failed to avoid or minimize conflicts of interest and situations requiring disqualification from cases involving the police department, violated the duty to hear and decide cases filed by the police department, which constitute a substantial portion of the cases the judge was elected to adjudicate, delegated that portion of her docket to an alternate judge, and continued to receive and accept payment of her full regular salary as a municipal court judge while the alternate judge has received a substantially disproportionate salary relative to the workload they were required to handle because of the judge’s conflicts with the police department.  In the Matter of Gates, Order (New Mexico Supreme Court July 2, 2021).
  • The Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline suspended a judge for 2 weeks without pay and placed him on probation until the end of his term for (1) failing to comply with 5 court orders in a case in which a fitness club sued him for dues, resulting in 3 findings of contempt and (2) failing to disclose the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue and the IRS as creditors on his statements of financial interest.  In re DiClaudio, Opinion and order (Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline July 6, 2021).
  • Following a trial de novo, a Texas Special Court of Review affirmed the public reprimand of a judge for (1) issuing a show cause order based on a plaintiff’s oral motion for contempt that had not been served on the alleged contemnor and (2) failing to ensure that parties against whom a contempt motion was filed had notice and an opportunity to respond; the judge was also ordered to obtain 4 hours of education with a mentor.  In re Jones, Opinion (Texas Special Court of Review June 17, 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 based on complaints that the judge had failed to treat attorneys appearing before him with patience, dignity, and courtesy; failed to require and maintain order and decorum in proceedings before him; exhibited and/or manifested bias or prejudice towards certain litigants and attorneys, including on the basis of race, sex, and/or socioeconomic status; failed to comply with the law and/or maintain professional competence in the law regarding attorney’s fees and/or statutory post-judgment interest; failed to accord a defendant the right to be heard according to law; lent the prestige of judicial office to advance his private interests; and made appointments that violated the state’s nepotism statute.  Barnstone, Voluntary agreement to resign from judicial office in lieu of disciplinary action (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct July 19, 2021).
  • Adopting the findings of a 3-judge panel based on stipulations, the Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended a judge for 7 days without pay for (1) in a domestic violence case, mischaracterizing the victim’s in-court statement and castigating her for expressing her opinion of her current relationship with the defendant; (2) during sentencing in a case involving the sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl, using “profane language and imagery to demean what he believed defense counsel’s argument to be,” displaying “irritation with counsel’s attempt simply to make arguments on behalf of his client,” making clear that he did not wish to hear extended arguments, attempting to intimidate the defendant into waiving his right to speak in allocution, and “questioning in open court whether the young girl had really suffered a second-degree sexual assault;” (3) stating when taking a guilty plea in another case, “I would love to have a trial on this issue, I’d love that he get found guilty, and I’d love to give him a year in jail for wasting my time today.  I would love to do that, but unfortunately I can’t;” (4) using undignified, discourteous, and disrespectful language when sentencing a young defendant with cognitive impairments and “essentially” threatening the defendant by displaying a handgun as a “prop;” (5) displaying his handgun to high students visiting his courtroom on Government Day; and (6) impliedly labelling an attorney a “d**k” during a custody/placement modification hearing.  In the Matter of Woldt (Wisconsin Supreme Court July 13, 2021).

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