Recent cases

  • The Alabama Court of the Judiciary suspended a judge for 120 days without pay for refusing to return to work on December 6, 2021, as the Court had ordered in a previous decision in which it had suspended her for 90 days.  In the Matter of Todd, Final judgment (Alabama Court of the Judiciary October 18, 2022).
  • The Alabama Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Court of the Judiciary removing a judge from office for (1) engaging in a pattern of racist demeanor; (2) engaging in a pattern of sexually inappropriate demeanor; (3) expressing anger inappropriately and using profanity in the court office; and (4) 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.  Jinks v. Judicial Inquiry Commission (Alabama Supreme Court October 21, 2022).
  • Accepting an agreement in which the judge stipulated that the Judicial Inquiry Commission could prove the allegations in its complaint, the Alabama Court of the Judiciary suspended a judge without pay for 45 days and publicly censured him for (1) making denigrating comments about the Governor and the presiding judge of the circuit, using cuss words and/or profanity, and making other highly inappropriate comments; and (2) declaring acts and statutes regarding court fees unconstitutional and issuing an order redirecting court funds to address budgetary concerns.  In the Matter of Patterson, Final judgment (Alabama Court of the Judiciary October 27, 2022).  The judge was also ordered to complete 15 hours of education on judicial ethics to include at least 3 hours of training focused on cultural sensitivity; to read weekly emails forwarded to him by the Judicial Inquiry Commission from the Center for Judicial Ethics for 6 months; to consult and meet with another judge as a mentor monthly for 6 months; to refrain from joking or other inappropriate or offensive colloquies with litigants, attorneys, or court staff while in the courtroom; and to refrain from profanity or off-color language in the courthouse including in chambers or other private settings.
  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for authorizing an individual to be transported for psychiatric admission for medication management and stabilization at an out-of-county facility based on ex parte communications and without following the law.  Slayton, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct September 19, 2022).
  • Approving a stipulation, the California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly censured a judge for (1) driving under the influence with a blood alcohol content of 0.25%, causing an accident, attempting to leave the scene of the accident, falsely informing bystanders that he was a truck driver to try to persuade them to let him leave the scene, misleading law enforcement officers about the cause of the accident, and underreporting to law enforcement the amount of alcohol he had consumed; and (2) during a proceeding, calling a litigant a “smart aleck,” accusing her of being “smart-alecky,” criticizing her tone of voice, and stating, sarcastically:  “I understand what they were going to testify about, ma’am, I’m not an idiot, okay.”  In the Matter of Mulvihill, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance October 27, 2022).
  • The Kentucky Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Judicial Conduct Commission removing a judge from office for (1) inserting herself into her son’s criminal cases and attempting to influence the outcome of the cases in text messages, meetings, and calls with the county attorney and the judge presiding in the cases; (2) deleting material from her son’s social media accounts after he had been arrested; (3) using her position to arrange semi-private meetings with her son in the jailer’s office, bringing him drinks and food contrary to jail policy, and visiting him outside of normal visiting hours; (4) threatening to impose monetary fines on case workers and supervisors for late reports; (5) removing or threatening to remove attorneys from her guardian ad litem list for arbitrary reasons; (6) having her staff conduct drug testing; (7) failing to be candid with the Commission; and (8) failing to avoid or disclose conflicts of interest by retaining, paying, and directing the actions of her son’s attorney, who practices law in her courtroom and regularly receives guardian ad litem appointments from her, by presiding over cases in which her staff attorney’s brother represented a party, and by appointing an attorney with her husband’s law firm as a guardian ad litem.  Gordon v. Judicial Conduct Commission (Kentucky Supreme Court October 20, 2022).
  • Agreeing with the recommendation of the Judiciary Commission, the Louisiana Supreme Court suspended a judge from office for 180 days for abusing her contempt power by ordering the arrest of a women for failing to appear to sign a notice of a new hearing even though the women was not a party in the proceeding, had not been served with a subpoena or summons to appear for the prior hearing, had not been in court or on the phone when the judge ordered her to sign the hearing notice, and had not been served a subpoena or summons to appear in court to sign the noticeIn re Day (Louisiana Supreme Court October 21, 2022).
  • Adopting the findings of the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct and denying the judge’s motion to dismiss, the New Jersey Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a former judge for calling a third-party witness in a trust case and conducting an independent factual investigation to obtain personal information about the trustee and his daughter and then relying on that information to draw negative inferences about the trustee’s credibility.  In the Matter of Bergman, Order (New Jersey Supreme Court October 6, 2022).
  • Accepting an agreed statement of facts and recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a non-lawyer judge for (1) failing to disclose that the plaintiff in a small claims case was a customer of his auto business or to disqualify himself; failing to administer an oath or affirmation to the litigants and witnesses; making rude and undignified comments to the defendant; allowing the plaintiff to interject repeatedly; failing to admonish a spectator who interjected in the proceeding; and denigrating the defendant in an ex parte conversation about the substance of the case with the plaintiff’s witness and a spectator; (2) failing to disclose that the owner of the defendant business in a small claims case was a town council member and his business associate; failing to disqualify himself; and failing to administer an oath or affirmation to the litigants and witnesses as required by law; and (3) failing to timely report the receipt of court funds to the State Comptroller as required by law.  In the Matter of Kraker, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct October 6, 2022).
  • Adopting the findings and recommendation of the Board of Professional Conduct, based on stipulations, the Ohio Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for, in a child welfare case, inspecting the house where the children were living and failing to recuse himself from the case.  Disciplinary Counsel v. Lemons (Ohio Supreme Court October 13, 2022).
  • Adopting the findings of Board of Professional Conduct, which were based on stipulations, but rejecting its recommendation of a 2-year suspension, the Ohio Supreme Court indefinitely suspended a judge without pay for (1) refusing to comply with an administrative order during the COVID-19 pandemic, issuing capias warrants to defendants who followed the administrative order and did not appear, and lying about issuing the warrants to the press and to the presiding administrative judge; (2) in numerous criminal cases, engaging in ex parte communications and improper plea bargaining, rendering arbitrary dispositions, unilaterally amending the charges and falsely attributing those amendments to the prosecutor in judgment entries, and falsely stating in journal entries that she had conducted ability-to-pay hearings and had determined that the defendants were unable to pay fines or costs; (3) using capias warrants and bonds to compel payment of fines and court costs; (4) exhibiting a lack of decorum and dignity, including, the way she dressed, “her unkempt bench,” her undignified and demeaning treatment of defendants, and her efforts to obtain free or discounted goods and services from defendants; and (5) becoming personally embroiled with a defendant, abusing her discretion by holding the defendant in contempt for rolling her eyes in court and cursing in lockup, instigating the incident that led her to cite the defendant in contempt for a second time, and failing to recuse herself from the 2 contempt cases.  Disciplinary Counsel v. Carr (Ohio Supreme Court October 18, 2022).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for ordering a defendant handcuffed and detained for a few hours for allegedly violating the conditions of his community supervision by not attending a specific retreat, which had not been ordered.  Public Reprimand of Uzomba (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct October 24, 2022), on appeal to special court of review.
  • The Vermont Supreme Court suspended a judge without pay for the remainder of his term based on its order adopting a decision of the Professional Responsibility Board, to suspend his law license for 15 months for disclosing confidential juvenile records, failing to seek to modify a client’s conditions of release, disclosing confidential information relating to the representation of a client, falsifying records submitted in response to a disciplinary investigation, and aggravating factors; the Court had also reprimanded him for failing to provide competent representation to a DUI client.  In re Cobb, Entry order (Vermont Supreme Court October 24, 2022).
  • Accepting the recommendation of the Judicial Hearing Board based on a joint stipulation and agreement between the judge and Judicial Disciplinary Counsel and the formal statement of charges filed by the Judicial Investigation Commission, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals suspended a judge for 12 months without pay, with 11 months held in abeyance, publicly reprimanded him, and ordered that he undergo counseling for (1) failing to treat litigants in his courtroom with respect and dignity, as demonstrated in hearings in 10 family court cases from January 2020 through August 2021, and (2) showing a lack of courtesy, civility, decorum, and judicial comportment, failing to control his anger and emotions, and expressing a clear disrespect for authority in dealing with technicians from the Supreme Court’s IT Department.  In the Matter of Camilletti, Order (West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals September 20, 2022).

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