Recent cases

  • Following a trial on the complaint of the Judicial Inquiry Commission, the Alabama Court of the Judiciary removed a judge from office for (1) engaging in a pattern of racist demeanor; (2) engaging in a pattern of sexually inappropriate demeanor; and (3) abusing the prestige of judicial office to seek early release of a female inmate and to seek aid for a friend’s sale of a life insurance policy.  In the Matter of Jinks, Final judgment (Alabama Court of the Judiciary October 29, 2021). The judge has filed an appeal from the decision.
  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for being tardy for court proceedings; frequently failing to issue timely rulings and using pro tem judges to clear her queue; being frequently absent from the court during normal court hours when no matters were on the calendar; and performing weddings during court hours for cash.  Sears, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct September 17, 2021).
  • Affirming in part, modifying in part, and reversing in part the findings of a hearing panel, the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board suspended the law license of a former judge for 180 days for engaging in numerous ex parte communications with his friend, an attorney who routinely appeared in front of him; failing to disclose the relationship or disqualify himself in matters in which his friend was involved; and failing to disclose his friendship with the attorney to the city council when advocating for the renewal of the friend’s firm’s indigent representation contract and for the payment of fees billed by the firm.  Grievance Administrator v. Easthope, Opinion (September 17, 2021), Notice of suspension (Michigan Attorney Discipline Board October 19, 2021).
  • Adopting the findings and recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct, the New Jersey Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a former judge for making a remark reasonably interpreted as sexual innuendo to a female defendant in response to her inquiry about whether she owed any bail.  In the Matter of Rodriguez, Order (New Jersey Supreme Court October 15, 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; in February and June, a hearing had been held before a referee on the written complaint filed by the Commission in October 2019 alleging that the judge threatened the life of a Black town employee who was in a romantic relationship with the judge’s White daughter, used a racial epithet when discussing the man on multiple occasions, and repeatedly expressed opposition to interracial marriage.  In the Matter of Sucher, Decision and order (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct October 28, 2021).
  • Based on an agreed statement of facts and recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a judge for operating his motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and refusing to cooperate with police officers after they stopped his car and attempted to arrest him.  In the Matter of Jacobsen, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct October 8, 2021).
  • Accepting an agreement for discipline by consent, the South Carolina Supreme Court suspended a judge for 18 months without pay for (1) soliciting funds for the Red Cross on his Facebook page and (2) submitting a certification about a party’s character and legal position in litigation; the judge also agreed to complete the National Judicial College’s online judicial ethics course, “Ethics and Judging: Reaching Higher Ground.”  In the Matter of Johns (South Carolina October 13, 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; in a notice of formal proceedings, the Commission had alleged that the justice of the peace (1) dismissed a seat belt citation and speeding citation for a friend without complying with the code of criminal procedure and fabricated a court record with respect to the speed citation; (2) made Facebook posts or allowed posts to appear on her Facebook page that (a) promoted, advertised, and/or expressed her support for consumer products, businesses, and other commercial endeavors; (b) indicated her support for and association with law enforcement, the Blue Lives Matter movement, and the U.S. Border Patrol; (c) expressed her contempt or disdain for criminal defendants; (d) promoted fundraising efforts by civic, charitable, and educational organizations and made directed solicitations for personal and local causes; and (e) promoted the campaigns of several candidates for public office; (3) created and forwarded a naked selfie from her cell phone to one or more persons in her community, which was widely disseminated and shared online, and gave untruthful testimony to the Commission about the selfie; and (4) failed to timely respond to Commission inquiries and failed to provide court records as requested.  Fernandez, Voluntary agreement to resign from judicial office in lieu of disciplinary action (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct October 22, 2021).

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