Recent cases

  • Approving a stipulation, the Florida Supreme Court suspended a judge for 10 days without pay, publicly reprimanded her, and fined her $37,500 for being absent from the courthouse beyond the permitted number of days for judicial leave, failing to notify court management of some of the absences, and being at the courthouse below the number of hours expected of trial judges on some days when she was there.  Inquiry Concerning Bryson (Florida Supreme Court November 24, 2021).
  • In lieu of formal disciplinary proceedings and with the judge’s consent, the Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications publicly admonished a judge for sua sponte revoking defendants’ bonds without a motion from the prosecution or notice to the defendants and contrary to statutory guidelines for at least 8 individuals in 13 matters between 2016 and 2020.  Public Admonition of Buckley (Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications November 8, 2021).
  • Accepting a stipulation agreement and consent to discipline, the New Mexico Supreme Court suspended a judge for 30 days without pay for (1) failing to wear a protective face covering at all times while on court premises as required by the Court’s pandemic order and asking a clerk if they minded if he did not wear a mask; (2) using chewing tobacco while on court premises contrary to an administrative order; (3) after the court began conducting telephonic hearings due to the pandemic, issuing bench warrants to 11 defendants who failed to call the court on their appearance dates without determining if they had been properly summoned; (4) based on an ex parte communication with an assistant district attorney, recalling a defendant’s case and ordering the defendant held without bond; (5) in 4 cases, issuing an order setting conditions of release when he knew or should have known that the district attorney’s office had filed an expedited motion for pretrial detention that divested him of jurisdiction; (6) in 13 driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs cases, issuing illegal and/or improper sentences and/or failing to ensure that judgment and sentencing orders were accurate; (7) dismissing a case with prejudice when a preliminary hearing was not held in a timely manner contrary to rule; (8) failing to give a litigant 15 days to respond to a notice of intent to enter judgment on the pleadings as required by rule; (9) granting a competency motion orally contrary to rule; (10) determining a defendant to be a flight risk because they “didn’t live in the U.S,” ordering the defendant held on an $8,000 bond, and failing to make written findings of facts justifying the secured bond as required by rule; (11) sentencing a defendant to 90 days of incarceration and imposing 364 days of probation without ordering the sentence deferred or suspended contrary to statute; (12) signing an order for judgment on the pleadings that stated that he had reviewed the defendant’s response to the plaintiff’s motion for judgment on the pleadings when a response had not yet been filed; (13) assisting a state police officer in the prosecution of a case; (14) in 2 cases on the same day, accepting a guilty plea and improperly dismissing charges without proof of compliance; and (15) in 2 cases on the same day, failing to fully advise the defendants of all of their constitutional rights. The judge also agreed to attend at his own expense and successfully complete the National Judicial College general jurisdiction course, to have a mentor, and to be on unsupervised probation until the end of his term. In the Matter of Guthrie, Order (New Mexico Supreme Court October 29, 2021).
  • Based on the report of the Board of Professional Conduct, which was based on stipulations, the Ohio Supreme Court suspended a judge for 6 months without pay for communicating inappropriately with a court reporter on Facebook and by text and phone calls; the entire suspension was stayed conditioned on the judge receiving 8 hours of training on sexual harassment and refraining from further misconduct.  Disciplinary Counsel v. Berry, Order (Ohio Supreme Court November 3, 2021).
  • Adopting the findings and recommendation of the Board of Profession Conduct based on stipulations, the Ohio Supreme Court suspended a judge for 1 year without pay for (1) his undignified, improper, and discourteous demeanor toward a criminal defendant and the defendant’s girlfriend in his courtroom; ordering the defendant’s girlfriend, who was quietly observing the proceedings, to be drug tested; and finding the defendant’s girlfriend in direct contempt of court and sentencing her to 10 days in jail for her refusal to submit to a drug test.  Disciplinary Counsel v. Repp (Ohio Supreme Court November 9, 2021).
  • The Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for (1) providing a “legal tip of the day” on Facebook, such as “when stealing stealth is key” or “the goal of criminal and bad behavior is to get away with it” and (2) having his law license suspended twice for failing to comply with mandatory continuing legal education requirements.  Webb (Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct November 5, 2021).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned a judge for issuing a search warrant for firearms in the possession of the husband in a divorce case without complying with the law, failing to be patient, dignified, and courteous with the husband, and manifesting bias and prejudice against the husband.  Public Warning of Bailey (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct October 29, 2021), on appeal.
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for falsely stating to other court employees that his former court clerk was being investigated by the county human resources department, provoking an altercation with the former clerk’s husband, a constable, and giving inaccurate and misleading testimony in a civil removal action against the constable.  The Commission also ordered the judge to receive 4 hours of instruction with a mentor particularly on sensitivity and diversity training, human resources, and personnel management.  Public Reprimand of Egan and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct October 29, 2021).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for holding the mother in a case affecting the parent-child relationship in contempt and jailing her without proper notice or advising her of her right to counsel.  Public Reprimand of Fletcher (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct October 29, 2021).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for (1) producing and erecting signs advertising his wife’s campaign for county commissioner, discussing her candidacy with others at campaign events and elsewhere, and maintaining a Facebook page on which materials supporting his wife’s campaign appeared; (2) producing and erecting signs advertising his services as a justice of the peace and as a private attorney; (3) disseminating business cards with the contact information for his judicial office on one side and his private practice on the other; and (4) acting as an attorney for a defendant in a case in which he had previously performed the magistration in his judicial capacity.  The Commission also ordered that he receive 2 hours of instruction with a mentor on campaign ethics, conflicts of interest, and performing magistrations.  Public Reprimand of Alvarez and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct October 29, 2021).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for (1) posting on Facebook concerning a death inquest she had conducted and commenting to the media about the inquest; (2) in her divorce proceedings, providing false testimony under oath about her possession and knowledge of firearms awarded to her ex-husband, for which she was held in contempt and served 15 days in confinement; and (3) striking an unattended vehicle.  Public Reprimand of Thomson (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct October 29, 2021).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a former judge for failing to complete any of his 16 hours of judicial education for 2018-2019 and any of his 16 hours of judicial education for 2019-2020.  Public Admonition of Valdez (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct October 29, 2021).
  • Based on a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for making comments critical of the city’s decision to file and try a case that he thought could only be heard by the 2 court employees in the courtroom but that were being broadcast through the court’s YouTube channel.  In re Antush, Stipulation, agreement, and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct November 19, 2021).
  • The West Virginia Judicial Investigation Commission publicly admonished a magistrate for failing to provide a sign language interpreter for a litigant despite the litigant’s request.  In the Matter of D’Angelo, Public admonishment (West Virginia Judicial Investigation Commission October 28, 2021).
  • The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals publicly censured a judge and fined her $1,000 for searching a self-represented ex-husband’s home for marital property and threatening him with contempt when he protested.  In the Matter of Goldston (West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals November 18, 2021).

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