Recent cases

  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for failing to rule for approximately 3 months on a contested order of protection and periodically filing certifications that he had no pending or undetermined cause for more than 60 days.  Guzman, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct November 17, 2020).
  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for (1) stating that he would “keep” a defendant who had not appeared for trial after issuing a warrant for his arrest; (2) keeping campaign materials in his judicial office and distributing nail files that stated “Bruce Staggs – Justice of the Peace, Benson JP Court” during court hours; (3) in a minute order, stating, “The Mormon’s [sic] the Court are [sic] associated with are good people that live up to their responsibilities;” (4) discussing a social medial post that criticized him in a minute order; (5) referring to female employees with the generic term of “woman” and telling a female employee “you’re unzipped,” in reference to the zippers on the ankle/calf of her pants and then commenting that he “wondered if he would get the same reaction if he were unzipped.”  Staggs, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct November 17, 2020).
  • Based on a stipulation and conditioned on the former judge’s agreement not to serve in a judicial capacity in the future, the California Commission on Judicial Performance severely admonished a former judge for his continuing failure to disclose his personal relationship with an attorney even after being publicly admonished for failing to do so in 2019; his lack of candor in 2 responses to the Commission; and his discourtesy to the district attorney in 1 case.  In the Matter Concerning Mason, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance December 9, 2020).
  • Agreeing with the recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Discipline based on a stipulation and agreement, the Colorado Supreme Court publicly censured a former judge based on his guilty plea to federal charges related to his disclosure of non-public, confidential information to his friends while serving as a magistrate and judge.  In the Matter of Kamada (Colorado Supreme Court December 7, 2020).
  • Based on his agreement not to seek judicial office in the future, the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission disposed of a complaint that a judge had engaged in behavior towards employees that constituted harassment based on gender and/or sex.  In re Jordan, Report of disposition (Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission December 11, 2020).
  • Approving a statement of circumstances and conditional agreement for discipline, the Indiana Supreme Court permanently barred a former magistrate from judicial service based on his guilty plea to possession of methamphetamine and resisting arrest; the Court also suspended the former magistrate from the practice of law for 1 year with the first 90 days served as an active suspension and the balance stayed subject to his successful completion of at least 2 years of probation.  In the Matter of Greenaway (Indiana Supreme Court December 4, 2020).
  • Affirming the decision of the Judicial Conduct Commission, the Kentucky Supreme Court upheld the removal of a judge for (1) coercing members of her guardian ad litem panel to donate the maximum amount to her campaign and to use personal time to campaign on her behalf; using court staff to work on her campaign during work hours; and taking steps to conceal HER conduct; (2) retaliating against an attorney for failing to campaign on her behalf by removing him from the guardian ad litem panel following the election;(3) forcing her case manager to resign to create a job opening for Stephen Penrose because she and Penrose were engaged in a personal, sexual relationship, not on the basis of merit; engaging in inappropriate workplace behavior with Penrose during work hours; and improperly delegating judicial functions to Penrose; (4) approving timesheets for staff members that she knew did not accurately reflect the hours those employees worked; leaving the courthouse on numerous occasions with staff members during regular court hours; permitting Penrose to play his guitar and sing in his office during work hours; and permitting staff member to store and consume alcoholic beverages in court offices; (5) directing school liaison officers to file school dependency, neglect, and abuse cases only once a month and to file certain petitions as truancy cases rather than dependency, neglect, and abuse cases, and, when one of those officers followed her employer’s instructions regarding how to file such cases, retaliating against her, referring to her as a “b***h,” and refusing to recuse from her cases; (6) making inappropriate sexual advances toward an attorney, sending one of her guardian ad litem panel attorneys to speak with the attorney, refusing to recuse from cases in which the attorney represented a party, and engaging in Snapchat conversations with members of her guardian ad litem panel and Penrose, some of which were sexual in nature; (7) appointing personal friends who supported her campaign to represent individuals seeking de facto custodian status without requiring those individuals to come to court to receive appointments; (8) failing to be candid and honest with the Commission regarding the termination of her case manager, the removal of the attorney from the guardian ad litem panel, and her relationship with Penrose; and (9) filing a bar complaint against an attorney in retaliation for her cooperation with the Commission investigation.  Gentry v. Judicial Conduct Commission (Kentucky Supreme Court December 17, 2020).
  • Affirming the Judicial Conduct Commission’s finding of fact, conclusions of law, and final order, the Kentucky Supreme Court upheld the public reprimand of a former judge for intervening on behalf of her ex-husband after he was arrested and for sending an ex parte text to a Commission member just before her hearing.  Maze v. Judicial Conduct Commission (Kentucky Supreme Court December 17, 2020).
  • The Nevada Supreme Court affirmed the Commission on Judicial Discipline’s admonishment of a hearing master for ignoring an attorney’s objections to her questioning of a juvenile defendant, yelling repeatedly at the attorney, preventing the attorney from making a record, threatening to report the attorney, and attempting to pressure the minor into answering her questions directly; the Commission had also ordered the hearing master to complete additional education.  In the Matter of Henry (Nevada Supreme Court December 23, 2020).
  • Accepting an agreed statement of facts and recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a judge for publicly supporting the teachers at her daughter’s school in litigation against the board of education by publicly commenting about issues and individuals involved in the litigation in person, by email, and on social media platforms in which she was publicly identified as a judge; providing legal information and advice to parents at the school; signing advocacy letters; speaking about the cases with members of the board of education; joining teacher union counsel outside the courtroom prior to a case conference; and executing an affidavit that was filed in the litigation.  In the Matter of Panepinto, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 9, 2020)
  • Adopting the findings of the Judicial Standards Commission, the North Carolina Supreme Court publicly censured a court of appeals judge for contributing to, enabling, and ignoring the toxic work environment in his chambers created by his executive assistant/law clerk, who was his close personal friend, and displaying a reckless disregard for the truth and downplaying the seriousness of his friend’s misconduct to the Commission and the administrative office of the courts.  In re Inquiry Concerning Murphy (North Carolina Supreme Court December 18, 2020).
  • Adopting the findings and recommendation of the Judicial Standards Commission, which were based on a stipulation of facts, the North Carolina Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for knowingly proceeding with a defendant’s probable cause hearing without the defendant’s counsel present to “make a point” about the lawyer’s failure to appear in court at the time the judge had directed.  In re Inquiry Concerning Clontz (North Carolina Supreme Court December 18, 2020).
  • Adopting the findings of the Board of Professional Conduct, which were based on stipulations and evidence presented at a hearing, the Ohio Supreme Court suspended a former magistrate from the practice of law for 6 months for summarily holding a woman who screamed in the hallway outside his courtroom in contempt, and, when she protested, increasing her jail sentence to 10 days.  Disciplinary Counsel v. Bachman (Ohio Supreme Court December 18, 2020).
  • With the judge’s acceptance, the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for “conducting judicial business outside the parameters of the COVID-19” plan for his judicial district as approved by the Tennessee Supreme Court and commenting to a court audience that he “wished Chief Justice Jeff Bivens would win an award so that the COVID-19 mandates” would end.  Hinson (Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct December 15, 2020).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned a judge for allowing a PAC to use his name, title, and likeness in materials that supported the campaigns of other Democratic candidates for public office as well as his own.  Public Warning of Molberg (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 3, 2020), on appeal to special court of review.
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a former judge for (1) during a public meeting of the Travis County Commissioners Court, wearing a pink knitted beanie with cat ears referred to as a “pussy hat” and (2) during a panel at the Texas Tribune Festival, stating that Governor Abbott, who is paralyzed from the waist down, “hates trees because one fell on him.”  Public Admonition of Eckhard (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 4, 2020), on appeal to special court of review.
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned a judge for publicly endorsing a candidate for county tax assessor-collector.  Public Warning of Cox (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 4, 2020).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for using the English and Spanish slurs for undocumented immigrants from Mexico in a conversation with his court reporter; the Commission also ordered the judge to obtain 2 hours of additional instruction with a mentor.  Public Admonition of Luitjen (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 4, 2020).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for initiating and permitting ex parte communications with the district attorney’s office about the merits of a defendant’s motion for a new trial in a criminal case.  Public Admonition of Luitjen (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 4, 2020).
  • Based on stipulated facts and conclusions of law, the Vermont Judicial Conduct Board publicly reprimanded a judge for leveraging his position as a part-time probate judge to gain an advantage for a client with a matter pending in his court’s criminal division and attempting to do so for a second client.  In re Cobb, Stipulated public reprimand with order (Vermont Judicial Conduct Board December 24, 2020).

Recent cases

  • Accepting the findings and recommendation of the Judicial Qualifications Commission based on stipulations, the Florida Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for yelling and waving his arms at people in the lobby outside his courtroom while trying to get them to be quiet and threatening one of them with contempt.  Inquiry Concerning Miller (Florida Supreme Court November 5, 2020).
  • Adopting the findings of the Judiciary Commission and agreeing with its findings, the Louisiana Supreme Court removed a justice of the peace from office for being unavailable and unresponsive to the constable and citizens in his jurisdiction, failing to take any action on an eviction filing and to refund the unearned filing fee, and failing to cooperate with the Commission.  In re King (Louisiana Supreme Court November 19, 2020).
  • Based on a stipulation of discipline by consent, the New Jersey Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a part-time judge for failing to recuse herself from cases in which the landlord for her law office appeared on behalf of clients.  In the Matter of Munoz (New Jersey Supreme Court November 23, 2020).
  • Accepting an agreed statement of facts and recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a non-lawyer judge for (1) on his personal Facebook page during his campaign, posting memes that propounded conspiracy theories, making disrespectful and undignified comments about laws he would be sworn to uphold as a sitting judge, and endorsing a candidate for the town council and (2) while a judge, posting comments on his personal Facebook page about the release on bond of a defendant he had arraigned, linking to articles critical of bail decisions in other cases, and commenting on one of those cases.  In the Matter of Schmidt, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct November 3, 2020).
  • The Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline ordered that the pay withheld from a former judge since his suspension in August be permanently withheld and that his resignation and pledge not to serve be binding and irrevocable based on his stipulation to the facts in a complaint filed by the Judicial Conduct Board alleging he (1) in a post-trial conversation with the attorneys in a criminal case, referred to a juror as “Aunt Jemima” and said that she had a “baby daddy” at home “slinging heroin,” referred to a second juror as a “knucklehead,” and criticized the seating of a juror whose daughter was a public defender; (2) made insulting remarks to the parents in a custody case and affected a manner of speech referred to as “Ebonics;” and (3) made improper comments during sentencing in 2 cases.  In re Tranquilli, Order (Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline November 19, 2020). 
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned a judge for (1) her Facebook activities in support of a friend’s campaign for city council and (2) a court clerk’s acceptance of a donation to her campaign at the courthouse; the Commission also ordered the judge to receive 2 hours of instruction with a mentor.  Public Warning of Woodard and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct October 28, 2020).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned a judge for publicly disparaging another judge’s bond determination on Facebook and referring to the other judge’s family in doing so; the Commission also ordered the judge to receive 2 hours of instruction with a mentor.  Public Warning of Crow and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct October 28, 2020).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned a judge for failing to timely set, hear, decide, and sign a judgement creditor’s post-judgment motions and to timely refer his motion to recuse; the Commission also ordered the judge to receive 2 hours of instruction with a mentor.  Public Warning of Hall and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct October 28, 2020), on appeal to special court of review.
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for failing to comply with the law before holding an attorney in contempt; the Commission also ordered the judge to receive 2 hours of instruction with a mentor.  Public Admonition of Richter and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct October 28, 2020).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a former judge for (1) removing a campaign sign from his neighbor’s property and his interview with the media about the incident; (2) instructing his staff not to accept applications for writs of possession after 3:30 p.m. or before 10:30 a.m.; (3) failing to forward a notice of appeal of the denial of a pauper’s affidavit to the county court and issuing a writ of possession after the appellant had timely perfected his appeal; and (4) failing to timely submit a response to staff’s letters of inquiry.  Public Admonition of Metzger (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct November 12, 2020).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned a judge for ordering the clerk’s office not to accept a plaintiffs’ motion to reopen a case; the Commission also ordered the judge to obtain 1 hour of instruction with a mentor.  Public Warning of Bosworth (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct November 12, 2020).
  • Based on a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a judge for “an intermittent pattern of intolerant and intemperate behavior” and using profanity, epithets, and slurs in the courtroom; the judge also agreed to participate in 2 hours of ethics training and to participate in behavioral coaching.  In re Wilson, Stipulation, agreement, and order (November 20, 2020).
  • Based on a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for telling a defendant with “idiosyncratic beliefs about the court system” to leave the courtroom and then ordering his arrest for contempt for “constructively” failing to appear and disruptive behavior; the judge was also ordered to complete at least 2 hours of training.  In re Jurado, Stipulation, agreement, and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct November 20, 2020).

Recent cases

  • Based on a stipulation and the judge’s retirement and agreement not to serve in a judicial capacity in the future, the California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished a judge for intruding into the charging authority of the district attorney, questioning a deputy district attorney about the filing of a peremptory challenge, choosing a successor judge to handle a case after his disqualification, engaging in improper ex parte communications with the district attorney, and engaging in conduct toward the district attorney that was discourteous and conveyed the appearance of bias, embroilment, and prejudgment.  In the Matter Concerning Tamietti, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance October 14, 2020) .
  • The California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished a judge for (1) interrogating a witness in a hostile manner in a civil jury trial, making sarcastic remarks, and mishandling the witness’s assertion of her privilege against self-incrimination, and (2) questioning the parties and counsel in an injudicious manner in a quiet title action.  In the Matter Concerning Roesch, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance October 15, 2020).
  • Accepting the determination of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, the New York Court of Appeals upheld the removal of a judge for (1) engaging in a pattern of inappropriate behavior toward court staff, including unwelcome comments of a sexual nature; (2) allowing his court secretary to prepare a letter to obtain payment for legal work he performed prior to becoming a full-time judge; and (3) failing to file timely and accurate disclosure reports of his income from his extra-judicial activities with the IRS, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, the Ethics Commission for the Unified Court System, and the clerk of the court.  In the Matter of Miller (New York Court of Appeals October 15, 2020).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for revoking a defendant’s probation without having the probation officer sworn in before testifying, denying the defendant the right to present evidence, and denying an appeal bond; the Commission also ordered the judge to obtain 2 additional hours of education.  Public Admonition of Christian and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct August 12, 2020).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for refusing to allow a defendant’s counsel access to the defendant’s court records and providing the police chief an interoffice memo about the case ex parte; the Commission also ordered the judge to obtain 4 additional hours of instruction.  Public Admonition of Del Carmen and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct August 12, 2020).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for making a phone call on his aunt’s behalf to determine the whereabouts of a horse and exhibiting poor demeanor during the call; the Commission also ordered the judge to receive 2 additional hours of education.  Public Admonition of Foley and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct August 12, 2020).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for speaking publicly about a domestic violence victim during a political forum.  Public Reprimand of Howard (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct August 12, 2020).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned a judge for requesting that law enforcement officers target and issue traffic citations to commercial vehicles associated with a solar farm project that was next to property owned by her family and making racially insensitive comments about people of Mexican descent in her communications with law enforcement officers; the Commission also ordered the judge to obtain 2 hours of instruction with a mentor.  Public Warning of Plaster and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct August 12, 2020).
  • The West Virginia Judicial Investigation Commission publicly admonished a judge for going to the homes of litigants to determine if they had in their possession disputed marital personal property and/or to supervise the transfer of the items.  In the Matter of Shuck, Public admonishment (West Virginia Judicial Investigation Commission August 25, 2020).

Recent cases

  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for telling court staff that he left the priesthood because there was “no pan ocha [sic],” which he believed meant “brown sugar” but which is slang for the female anatomy.  Pollard, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct September 15, 2020).
  • Based on an agreement, the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission publicly reprimanded a judge for intemperate conduct in 2 criminal cases on the same date.  In re Conley, Public reprimand (Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission September 9, 2020).
  • Based on an agreement, the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission suspended a judge for 14 days without pay for failing to recuse herself from a case involving an attorney whom she accused of stealing from her husband, threatening that the attorney was “not going to be conflicted out forever,” and improperly pressuring the clerk and another judge to refuse to provide a video of the proceeding to the attorney.  In re Dutton, Agreed order of suspension (Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission September 4, 2020).
  • Granting a joint motion for approval of a recommendation, the Mississippi Supreme Court suspended a judge for 30 days without pay, publicly reprimanded her, and fined her $1,000 for (1) initiating improper ex parte communications with a third party to investigate a pending civil matter, (2) failing to comply with the statutory limits on money judgments in justice court, and (3) retaliating against a court clerk for filing a complaint with the Commission.  Commission on Judicial Performance v. Bozeman (Mississippi Supreme Court September 24, 2020).
  • Based on a stipulation and the judge’s consent, the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline publicly admonished a judge for giving a “Gag Order, Esquire” patch to a female judge and 4 female staff members and stating during a meeting that the other judge had “erotic” or “risqué” coloring books in her chambers.  In the Matter of Potter, Stipulation and order of consent to public admonishment (Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline September 30, 2020).
  • Accepting a stipulation based the judge’s resignation and his affirmation that he will not seek or accept judicial office in the future, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct terminated a proceeding against a judge; following a hearing on a formal complaint, a referee had found that the judge (1) had approximately 10 conversations with a court employee in and outside the workplace about his campaign for surrogate, repeatedly asking her to consider working on his campaign even after she declined; (2) kissed the employee twice in his chambers without her consent when her transfer was announced; (3) expressed interest in dating a second court employee several times and kissed her 3 times on the cheek without her consent after she told him that her father had been diagnosed with cancer; and (4) falsely denied in his deposition during the Commission investigation that he had expressed romantic interest in the second employee.  In the Matter of Hanuszczak, Decision and order (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 17, 2020).
  • Accepting a stipulation based the judge’s resignation and his affirmation that he will not seek or accept judicial office in the future, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct terminated a proceeding against a judge; the Commission had notified the judge that it was investigating complaints that his demeanor toward and treatment of his court clerks caused 3 or 4 of them to resign and that he had warned residents of a youth home of the consequences of misbehavior at the home, including the possibility of jail time, in the absence of counsel for the youth, while presiding over their cases.  In the Matter of Madden, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 21, 2020).
  • Accepting an agreed statement of facts and recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a non-lawyer for issuing a warrant of eviction against a tenant after an ex parte proceeding even though neither the judge nor the tenant had been presented with a notice of petition, a petition, or an affidavit of service as required by law; calling the tenant a “deadbeat;” and failing to record the proceeding.  In the Matter of Knopf, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 23, 2020).
  • Adopting the findings and recommended sanction of the Board of Professional Conduct, based on stipulations, the Ohio Supreme Court suspended a judge for 6 months for interfering in a case assigned to another judge involving the incarcerated boyfriend of the daughter of his friends, engaging in ex parte communications with the boyfriend, and “orchestrating” his release on a recognizance bond 2 days before his scheduled arraignment; the Court stayed the suspension conditioned on the judge completing 2 hours of CLE on judicial ethics and engaging in no further misconduct.  Disciplinary Counsel v. Goulding (Ohio Supreme Court September 29, 2020).
  • Based on the judge’s consent, the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for stating that, “the Grand Wizard of our Supreme Court said we have to wear these masks,” or words to that effect, to a courtroom audience of criminal defendants, some of whom were African-American.  Re Ledsinger (Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct September 28, 2020).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a former judge for independently investigating allegations by 2 defense attorneys in a murder trial that another attorney had sent their client an anonymous letter, summoning the attorney to court without notice and questioning her, and holding a second proceeding about the allegations without the attorney present.  Public Admonition of Contreras (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 8, 2020), on appeal.
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for displaying a handgun during a public confrontation in a residential neighborhood, contrary to Texas law.  Public Reprimand of Williams (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 8, 2020).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for approaching a paralegal in the courtroom, grabbing her arm or elbow, and admonishing her for sitting in a section of the courtroom reserved for attorneys; the Commission also ordered the judge to complete 2 hours of instruction with a mentor.  Public Admonition of Wilson (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 8, 2020), on appeal.
  • 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 disciplinary proceedings against a former judge; the Commission had received a complaint alleging that the judge had denied an attorney access to his client prior to and at magistration and, during its investigation, learned that the judge had been serving as a full-time licensed police officer since July 2015.  Martinez, Voluntary agreement to resign from judicial office in lieu of disciplinary action (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct July 23, 2020).

Recent cases

  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for failing to issue a ruling in a dissolution case for almost 6 months and signing payroll certifications that did not reflect the matter as pending for more than 60 days. Astrowsky, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct May 19, 2020).
  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for failing to disqualify herself from cases involving an attorney against whom she appeared to be biased and prejudiced and failing to comply with disclosure and waiver requirements in cases involving the police department where her husband is a sergeant. Gregory, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct May 19, 2020).
  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a part-time judge for using his judicial title/status in posts on the Facebook page for his campaign for sheriff. Barth, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct June 10, 2020).
  • Based on the findings of 3 masters, the California Commission on Judicial Performance removed a justice on the court of appeal from office for (1) engaging in a pattern of unwelcome, undignified, discourteous, and offensive conduct toward a female appellate justice that would reasonably be perceived as sexual harassment, including multiple instances of unwanted touching; (2) making comments to a female highway patrol officer about her appearance and making comments to her that were unflattering about his wife; (3) engaging in unwelcome, undignified, and discourteous behavior toward 2 female research attorneys that would reasonably be perceived as sexual harassment; (4) engaging in inappropriate conduct toward 2 female judicial assistants, a female research attorney, and a female appellate justice; (5) displaying poor demeanor toward a female appellate justice, a female judicial assistant, a female research attorney, and a male research attorney; (6) engaging in a pattern of conduct toward 5 female attorneys who did not work for the court that demeaned the judicial office and lent the prestige of office to advance his personal interests; (7) appearing to be under the influence of alcohol on 7 occasions, 5 of which were at the courthouse late at night; and (8) using profanity to refer to 2 female justices when speaking to highway patrol officers. Inquiry Concerning Johnson, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance June 2, 2020).
  • Accepting the determination of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, the New York Court of Appeals removed a part-time judge from office for repeatedly using degrading, profane, vulgar, and sexist language in emails with 2 clients that insulted their daughter, opposing counsel, and the presiding court attorney referee, including using “an extremely crude gender-based slur to describe opposing counsel.” In the Matter of Senzer (New York Court of Appeals June 23, 2020).
  • Accepting an agreed statement of facts and recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for failing to render decisions in 6 small claims cases for between 5 and 47 months, long after the time required by statute. In the Matter of Corretore, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 22, 2020).
  • Accepting an agreed statement of facts and recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a non-lawyer judge for commenting about pending criminal charges and making disparaging comments about the defendant on 3 different dates in his courtroom, outside the presence of the defendant and his attorney. In the Matter of Pebler, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 17, 2020).
  • Accepting an agreed statement and recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for, on 3 occasions, making inappropriate comments to and about lawyers and others and failing to disqualify himself from a probation violation matter after expressing negative views regarding the Department of Probation, a probation department employee, and an employee of the Department of Health. In the Matter of Gerber, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 27, 2020).
  • Adopting the findings and recommendation of the Board of Professional Conduct, which were based on a stipulation, the Ohio Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for driving while under the influence of alcohol and making repeated non-responsive references to his judicial office after being stopped by a law enforcement officer. Disciplinary Counsel v. Gonzalez (Ohio Supreme Court June 11, 2020).
  • Based on a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for expressing his opposition to a building permit in emails to city officials that were sent from his work email address and identified him as a judge in the signature block; the judge also agreed to complete 1 hour of training. In re Lucas, Stipulation, agreement, and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 26, 2020).
  • Approving a resolution proposed by a special committee, the Judicial Council of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit publicly admonished a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin for the first 2 sentences of a law review article he wrote entitled, “The Roberts Court’s Assault on Democracy,” which was published in the Harvard Law Review. Resolution of Complaints Against Adelman (7th Circuit Judicial Council June 22, 2020).

Recent cases

  • Accepting the recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Conduct, which the judge did not contest, the Alaska Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for failing to decide a matter for more than 6 months and signing pay affidavits that she should have known were not accurate.  In the Disciplinary Matter Involving White (Alaska Supreme Court May 8, 2020).
  • Pursuant to an agreement with the Arkansas Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission, a judge resigned and agreed to a permanent bar from holding judicial office in the state for (1) failing to immediately recuse from all cases involving a female defendant with whom he was communicating on Facebook Messenger and by telephone and engaging in ex parte communications with her about her cases after he recused; and (2) calling the mayor and the police chief after his wife received a traffic ticket and using unprofessional language and exhibiting unbecoming demeanor during the call.  Letter of resignation and prohibition from office (Throesch) (Arkansas Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission May 1, 2020).
  • Based on an agreement, the California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished a judge for, in several hearings in a family law case, making comments that demonstrated embroilment, bias, and pre-judgement and that were discourteous and undignified, including accusing the parents of damaging their child and initiating a discussion about religion with a witness.  In the Matter Concerning Gary, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance May 14, 2020) .
  • Based on a stipulation, the Florida Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for routinely conducting first appearances without complying with statute and the rules of criminal procedure and engaging in improper ex parte communications with defendants, witnesses, litigants, family members, and others regarding cases or matters pending, impending, or likely to come before him.  Inquiry Concerning Scaff (Florida Supreme Court May 28, 2020) .
  • Based on the findings and recommendation of a 3-judge panel, the New Jersey Supreme Court removed a judge from office for (1) his coarse questioning of an alleged domestic violence victim during a hearing and his sophomoric comments to staff members in open court after the hearing; (2) asking a court employee to contact her counterpart in another court to request that his personal guardianship matter be rescheduled to accommodate him; (3) failing to recuse himself from a matrimonial matter when he had known both parties since high school and “drastically” reducing a judgement based solely on the husband’s testimony; and (4) threatening and belittling an unrepresented litigant in an ex parte conversation.  In the Matter of Russo (New Jersey Supreme Court May 26, 2020).
  • The Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline removed a former judge from office and banned him from serving in office again based on its guilty plea to federal charges of mail fraud and filing a false personal income tax return and his conviction on federal perjury charges.  In re Mulgrew, Opinion and order (Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline May 6, 2020).
  • The Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline removed a former judge from office and barred him from further judicial service based on his guilty plea to federal charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering and extortion under color of official right.  In re Waltman, Opinion and order (Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline May 6, 2020).

Recent cases

  • With the judge’s agreement, the D.C. Commission on Judicial Disabilities and Tenure determined that a judge violated the code of judicial conduct by (1) making comments that were not germane to the disposition of a case to send messages to attorneys and the public; and (2) in a child custody case, failing to follow established procedures required by clear and unambiguous law and making comments that one of the parties interpreted as a threat and demonstration of his bias against her; the Commission concluded that no further action or sanction was warranted.  Re Christian, Determination and undertaking (D.C. Commission on Judicial Disabilities and Tenure April 20, 2020).
  • Approving a statement of circumstances and conditional agreement for discipline, the Indiana Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for, in a dispute with county officials regarding benefit payments for the drug court coordinator, negotiating on the coordinator’s behalf in his capacity as judge and behind the scenes with the coordinator’s attorney and threatening the county auditor with contempt unless the coordinator was offered a substantial settlement.  In the Matter of Miller, Order (Indiana Supreme Court April 30, 2020).
  • Based on the judge’s admissions, the Montana Supreme Court suspended a judge for 30 days without pay for (1) failing to properly report that she employed H.W. as her nanny, babysitter, and/or office worker; denying H.W.’s employment status during the discipline proceedings; and making false and misleading statements to the University of Montana School of Law to preclude H.W.’s admission; (2) publicly endorsing 2 partisan candidates for non-judicial offices on her personal Facebook page; (3) contributing to a partisan candidate; (4) having endorsements from 2 partisan candidates and a political organization had on her campaign Facebook page; and (5) during her campaign, claiming 2 years of experience under the student practice rules as 2 years of law experience and giving herself credit for approximately 80 jury trials while she was a law clerk for a federal judge.  Inquiry Concerning Harada (Montana Supreme Court April 17, 2020).
  • Accepting an agreed statement of facts and recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a judge for (1) initiating, engaging in, and considering an ex parte communication with a deputy sheriff concerning a jail policy and practice related to the merits of a motion pending before him in a criminal case and failing to disclose the communication and (2) failing to report 16 cases to his administrative judge on his quarterly reports of cases pending more than 60 days without decision.  In the Matter of Carter, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct March 31, 2020).
  • Based on an agreed statement of facts and recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a non-lawyer judge for, during her 2018 campaign for election, (1) publishing a campaign advertisement and distributing campaign materials that gave the impression that she would consider revenue generation for the town in her judicial decisions and (2) liking or replying to crude Facebook posts by her supporters about her election opponent.  In the Matter of VanWoeart, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct March 31, 2020).
  • Accepting a stipulation based on the judge’s resignation and agreement not to seek or accept judicial office, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct concluded a proceeding against a former judge who had pled guilty to attempted burglary in the second degree, a felony.  In the Matter of Cicale, Decision and order (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct April 2, 2020).
  • Accepting a stipulation based on the judge’s resignation and agreement not to seek or accept judicial office, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct concluded a proceeding against a former judge who had pled guilty to federal tax evasion charges.  In the Matter of Seedorf, Decision and order (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct April 2, 2020).
  • Accepting a stipulation based on the judge’s resignation and agreement not to seek or accept judicial office, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct concluded a proceeding against a former judge who resigned after the Commission alleged in a formal written complaint that, in September 2018, the judge had operated his motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and asserted his judicial office with the police officer at the scene in an attempt to avoid arrest or other adverse consequences.  In the Matter of Rebolini, Decision and order (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct April 30, 2020).
  • Agreeing with the recommendation of the Board of Professional Conduct, which adopted findings of a panel based on the parties’ stipulations, the Ohio Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and referring to her judicial office during the traffic stop.  Disciplinary Counsel v. Doherty (Ohio Supreme Court April 14, 2020).
  • Adopting the findings and recommendation of the Board of Professional Conduct, the Ohio Supreme Court suspended a former magistrate from the practice of law for 6 months, with the entire suspension stayed conditionally, for having a lengthy ex parte conversation with one party after the other party had left the courtroom following a hearing and discussing the evidence in case and her personal views on the absent party’s integrity, indicating how she intended to rule, making inappropriate comments about the parties’ religions, and using profanity; and failing to disqualify herself from the case after the ex parte communication.  Disciplinary Counsel v. Porzio (Ohio Supreme Court April 23, 2020).
  • Based on the findings and conclusions of the Judicial Hearing Board, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals suspended a magistrate for 90-days without pay, fined him $2,000, and reprimanded him for violating a state fishing regulation, displaying his court identification card to the Department of Natural Resources officers, his “belligerent and coercive behavior” toward the officers, and denying in a sworn statement during the investigation that he had acted in a disrespectful and coercive manner toward the officers.  In the Matter of Ferguson (West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals April 22, 2020).

 

 

Recent cases

  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a pro tem judge for providing false information to law enforcement investigating her client.  Gillis, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct January 11, 2020).
  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for holding a litigant trying to pay a fine in contempt without due process for his conduct at the counter in the clerk’s office and ordering law enforcement to arrest him for disorderly conduct and interfering with judicial proceedings.  Riggs, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct March 17, 2020).
  • Based on stipulations and an agreement, the California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly censured a judge for (1) engaging in “undignified, discourteous, and offensive sexualized (or otherwise crude) conduct in the workplace;” (2) engaging in a pattern of conduct that was undignified, discourteous, and offensive and conveyed, at a minimum, the appearance of bias against prosecutors; (3) creating at least the appearance of retaliation against a deputy district attorney he believed had filed a complaint against him; (4) improperly commenting about peremptory challenges; (5) asking an African-American defendant to stop “shucking and jiving;” and (6) saying in open court about a statement by his bailiff, “He doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about.”  Inquiry Concerning Bennett, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance March 25, 2020).
  • Approving the findings, conclusions, and recommendations of the Judicial Qualifications Commission based on a stipulation, the Florida Supreme Court reprimanded in writing 5 judges for sending a letter encouraging the Florida Department of Children and Families to award a contract to a particular vendor.  Inquiry Concern Lederman, Caballero, Figarola, Pooler, and Ruiz (Florida Supreme Court March 26, 2020).
  • The Minnesota Board on Judicial Standards publicly reprimanded a judge for failing to supervise her law clerk, approving her clerk’s inaccurate timesheets, and exchanging inappropriate emails with her law clerk.  Public Reprimand of Leahy (Minnesota Board on Judicial Standards March 19, 2020).
  • Adopting the findings and recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct, which the judge accepted, the New Jersey Supreme Court publicly censured a judge for, during a hearing on a request to impose restraints against a defendant, giving “vent to his personal disdain for the plaintiff’s decision to file” the proceeding; chastising both litigants and the defendant’s husband who was present; and demonstrating a lack of self-control that was “inimical to a jurist’s role as a neutral and dispassionate arbiter.”  In the Matter of Rivas, Order (New Jersey Supreme Court March 23, 2020).
  • Accepting a stipulation based on the judge’s resignation and agreement not to seek or accept judicial office, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct concluded a proceeding against a former non-lawyer judge; in a formal complaint, the Commission had alleged that the judge had (1) operated a motor vehicle without a valid driver’s license for over 8 years; (2) failed to deposit or account for approximately $743 in cash received in payment for fines; (3) from September 2011 through October 2018, made 13 deposits in his court bank account that differed the amount received by his court, resulting in a cumulative deficiency of $1,283; (4) from September 2011 through October 2018, received court funds in at least 64 cases for which he failed to issue and/or maintain receipts as required by law; (5) for the entire period in which he was a judge, failed to maintain adequate court records as required by law; (6) from March 2011 through October 2018, failed to report the dispositions of 40 traffic tickets to the Department of Motor Vehicles as required by law; (7) from February 2012 to April 2017, failed to mechanically record court proceedings, contrary to court rules and administrative orders; and (8) failed to cooperate with the Office of the State Comptroller, town officials, and the Commission about his apparent financial, reporting, and record keeping inadequacies.  In the Matter of Gardner, Decision and order (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct March 13, 2020).
  • The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct removed a judge from office for (1) without complying with mandatory procedural safeguards for contempt, sentencing litigants in 2 cases to 30 days in jail, ordering litigants in 4 cases to be taken into custody in handcuffs and held for 15 minutes to 2 hours, and threatening to order that 2 other family court litigants and the mother of a litigant be handcuffed and detained; (2) being discourteous to court personnel; (3) being discourteous to litigants; (4) presiding over matters in which his friend appeared without disclosing the relationship and failing to disclose that a construction company affiliated with a party in a matter was performing work at the home of his law secretary; (5) conducting gun permit interviews at inappropriate locations and requiring his court secretary to work on Saturdays without compensation; (6) practicing law while a full-time judge; and (7) using his judicial title in his personal email.  In the Matter of McGuire, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct March 18, 2020).
  • Reviewing a public reprimand by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, a Texas Special Court of Review publicly warned a judge for failing to respond to the Commission’s inquiry.  In re Slaughter, Opinion (Texas Special Court of Review March 19, 2020).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for at least 8 posts on her judicial Facebook page congratulating 12 attorneys on winning jury verdicts in her court and lauding the results and their professional backgrounds.  Public Admonition of Gonzalez (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct March 18, 2020).

 

Recent cases

  • Based on an agreement and stipulation and the judge’s retirement, the Alabama Court of the Judiciary found that a former judge committed misconduct by appointing his son as an attorney in more than 200 indigent cases from August 2015 to July 2017, for which his son was paid approximately $105,000, not including any money paid under an indigent-defense contract, and taking judicial action in some of the cases and ordered that he pay costs of the prosecution.  In the Matter of Chaney, Final judgment (Alabama Court of the Judiciary February 24, 2020).
  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for ex parte communications with a temporary guardian about a pending matter and an independent investigation in the case.  Stevens, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct January 31, 2020).
  • Based on the report of a referee following a hearing, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct removed a judge from office for (1) engaging in a pattern of inappropriate behavior toward court staff, including unwelcome comments of a sexual nature; (2) allowing his court secretary to prepare a letter as part of his effort to obtain payment for legal work he had performed prior to becoming a full-time judge; and (3) failing to timely and accurately report his extra-judicial income to the Ethics Commission for the Unified Court System, the Internal Revenue Service, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, and the court clerk.  In the Matter of Miller, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct February 14, 2020).
  • Adopting the findings, conclusion, and recommendation of the Judicial Standards Commission based on a stipulation and agreement, the North Carolina Supreme Court publicly censured a judge for making “detailed, affirmative and specific factual assertions to the State Bar during its investigation” that he “knew were unsupported by any personal recollection or documentation” and were misleading, grossly negligent, and made with reckless disregard for the truth on letterhead bearing the imprimatur of the North Carolina Judicial Branch.  In re Stone (North Carolina Supreme Court February 28, 2020).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned a judge for attempting to impose a 10-day jail on a defendant who failed to accept a plea agreement and attempting to influence a witness’s statement to the Commission.  Public Warning of Gray (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct February 7, 2020).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned a judge for removing an attorney as appointed defense counsel in 14 cases, instructing a defendant to “shop around” for another attorney after he removed her defense attorney and failing to appoint her counsel for 3 months, and posting a list of attorneys on the court’s website and disseminating a list to criminal defendants in his court.  Public Warning of Cox (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct February 7, 2020).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for failing to maintain her Texas law license in good standing and failing to cooperate with the Commission.  Public Reprimand of Slaughter (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct February 7, 2020).

Recent cases

  • Following a hearing on a complaint, the Alabama Court on Judiciary publicly reprimanded a judge for securing an ex parte, oral deviation from an order in a child custody/visitation case involving his parents and obtaining the services of law enforcement to enforce the oral order.  In the Matter of Allred, Final judgment (Alabama Court on Judiciary January 31, 2020).
  • Based on the presentment of the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct, the New Jersey Supreme Court publicly censured a judge for incarcerating a pro se litigant for 23 days in default of bail to ensure her appearance in court, committing the litigant for a psychiatric evaluation without following a civil commitment process, and abusing his contempt power.  In the Matter of Adames (New Jersey Supreme Court January 16, 2020).
  • Accepting a stipulation based on the judge’s resignation and agreement not to seek or accept judicial office in the future, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct concluded a proceeding against a former judge who resigned after the Commission told him it was investigating allegations that, “from 2005 through 2019, he made improper and at times abusive personal demands of court staff, directly or indirectly conveying that continued employment required submitting to such demands, and creating a hostile  workplace environment.” In the Matter of Rosenbaum, Decision and order (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct January 23, 2020).
  • Accepting 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, causing him to lose control of his car and crash into 2 stop signs and 2 benches, twice falsely telling police officers at the scene that he had had only 2 alcoholic drinks prior to the accident, and telling state police officers at the scene that he would never again conduct an arraignment for the state police.  In the Matter of Miranda, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct January 30, 2020).
  • Accepting an agreed statements of fact and recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a non-lawyer judge for driving while his ability was impaired by alcohol, which caused him to lose control of his vehicle and crash into a building, and being uncooperative and belligerent to a police officer and paramedic at the scene.  In the Matter of Petucci, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct January 30, 2020).
  • Adopting the findings of fact of a hearing panel, which were based on the judge’s admissions, and agreeing with its conclusions, the Wisconsin Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a part-time court commissioner for failing to recuse himself from a small claims case in which a close friend appeared as an attorney or to disclose the relationship and his angry and sarcastic comments to the self-represented defendant in the trial of the case.  In the Matter of Gorski (Wisconsin Supreme Court January 30, 2020).