Recent cases

  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for entering an ex parte order in a criminal matter from which he had recused himself.  Jantzen, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct May 13, 2019).
  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for, during a drug court hearing, saying, “sit on my lap if you want . . . no, no I take that back” to a female participant when she seemed confused about where to sit or stand when her case was called.  Fell, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct June 10, 2019).
  • Based on a joint statement of circumstances and conditional agreement for discipline, the Indiana Supreme Court suspended a judge without pay for 45 days for appointing an unqualified friend as trustee of a trust and personal representative of a related estate, failing to disclose the friendship and his financial relationship with the friend, and failing to respond promptly to evidence his friend was embezzling the funds.  In the Matter of Freese, Per curiam opinion (Indiana Supreme Court June 4, 2019).
  • Based on the findings, conclusions, and recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Disabilities, the Maryland Court of Appeals suspended a judge for 6 months without pay for (1) abdicating her duty to handle and process search warrant materials, as required by statute, and instructing a law clerk to destroy warrant materials and (2) failing to treat fellow judges and courthouse staff with dignity and respect, including repeatedly yelling at court clerks and judges, subjecting court clerks to line-ups when clerical mistakes were made, physically pushing a clerk, and repeatedly attempting to undermine the authority of the administrative judge.  In the Matter of Russell, Opinion (Maryland Court of Appeals June 28, 2019).  The Court conditioned the judge’s reinstatement on her undergoing emotional and behavioral assessment by a health care professional and completion of an approved course on judicial ethics.
  • Adopting the findings of fact and conclusions of law of the Judicial Tenure Commission, the Michigan Supreme Court removed a judge from office for (1) failing to disclose the extent of her relationship with a police detective who was a witness in a trial over which she presided; (2) failing to disclose the extent of her relationship with an attorney when the attorney or her law firm appeared in several cases over which the judge presided; (3) failing to immediately disqualify herself from her own divorce proceeding and destroying evidence; (4) making false statements (a) during court proceedings over which she presided, (b) to the Commission while under oath, and (c) while testifying at her deposition under oath in her divorce proceeding; (5) being persistently impatient, undignified, and discourteous to those appearing before her; (6) requiring her staff to perform personal tasks during work hours; (7) allowing her staff to work on her judicial campaign during work hours; and (8) improperly interrupting 2 depositions that she attended during her divorce proceeding; the Court also barred her from exercising the power of her office for 6 years without pay if she were to be elected or appointed to judicial office during that time.  In re Brennan (Michigan Supreme Court June 19, 2019).
  • Adopting the findings and recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct, based on stipulations, the New Jersey Supreme Court publicly censured a former judge for directing that money from a municipal DWI fund be disbursed to him without the required pre-approval from his assignment judge; the Court also permanently barred him from judicial office and ordered that he pay restitution of $11,995.85 to the state.  In the Matter of Corradino (New Jersey Supreme Court June 5, 2019).
  • 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; the Commission had received 2 complaints alleging that the judge had sexually harassed a woman and/or engaged in a sexual relationship with a woman employed by the county, which the judge denied.  Sutherland, Voluntary agreement to resign from judicial office in lieu of disciplinary action (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 6, 2019).
  • Based on a formal complaint, to which the judge stipulated, the Vermont Judicial Conduct Board publicly reprimanded a judge for, in small claims cases, issuing arrest warrants for judgment debtors without due process, financial disclosure hearings, or contempt hearings; setting “purge amounts” on the arrest warrants without a finding about the judgment debtor’s ability to pay; and continuing financial disclosure hearings on a rolling, on-going basis even after a judgment debtor’s present inability to pay had been demonstrated by sufficient evidence.  In re Vance, Public reprimand with order (Vermont Judicial Conduct Board May 28, 2019).

Recent cases

  • Based on a stipulation, the California Commission on Judicial Performance severely censured a judge for (1) failing to accept responsibility for a ticket for running a red light until instructed to do so by her presiding judge, knowingly participating in her husband’s request for a trial by written declaration, and seeking assistance with the ticket from a court clerk; (2) having an ex parte telephone conversation with a deputy district attorney about a question from a deliberating jury and responding to the question in writing without the knowledge of the defendant or his attorney; (3) saying to a defendant in a restraining order proceeding, “You can’t down a couple of 40s before you go pick [your children] up before a visit because that’s not good. Do you understand?”; and (4) in a jury trial, asking a self-represented plaintiff a question that reflected disbelief in her testimony, making a comment that conveyed to the jury that she had not seen any evidence to support a damages award, and referring to the “well-known quote” that the party who represents himself has a fool for a client.  In the Matter Concerning Symons, Decision and Order (California Commission on Judicial Performance May 20, 2019).
  • The California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished a judge for failing to resentence a criminal defendant for over 3 years after remand by the court of appeal. In the Matter Concerning Sandoval, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance May 20, 2019).
  • 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 non-lawyer judge for, at a public meeting of the village board addressing public concerns about criminal activity in the village, had “made statements that conveyed disdain for certain laws and aspects of legal process, a predisposition to presume defendants guilty, and personal annoyance with lawyers who represent criminal defendants.” In the Matter of Stone, Decision and Order (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct May 30, 2019).
  • Adopting the findings and recommendation of the Judicial Standards Commission based on a stipulation and agreement, the North Carolina Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for attacking the personal integrity and fairness of the chief judge in complaints to other judges, court staff, local attorneys, the Administrative Office of the Courts, and the Commission and failing to diligently discharge her duties. In re Smith (North Carolina Supreme Court May 10, 2019).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for pulling traffic citations to have an assistant district attorney file a motion to dismiss and/or provide other preferential treatment; the Commission also ordered that he receive 20 hours of instruction with a mentor. Public Reprimand of Trejo and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct April 26, 2019).
  • A Texas Special Court of Review issued 2 public reprimands to a former judge for (1) for ordering children removed from their mothers’ custody and given to their father in the absence of a verified pleading or affidavit and (2)(a) inappropriately touching another judge and 2 court clerks at a social function and sending the other judge an offensive text message and (b) making disparaging comments about the county district attorney’s office in court in 2 cases. In re Inquiry Concerning Williams, Opinion (Texas Special Court of Review May 17, 2019).
  • Based on the findings and recommendation of the Judicial Conduct Commission, the Utah Supreme Court suspended a judge for 6 months without pay for (1) “seemingly shirty and politically charged comments to a defendant in his courtroom;” (2) losing his temper with a member of the court’s staff and using his authority to seek her removal from the premises; and (3) a Facebook post that was critical of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. In re Kwan (Utah Supreme Court May 22, 2019).
  • Accepting the recommendation of the Judicial Hearing Board, based on an agreement, which references the formal statement of charges, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals censured and reprimanded a former supreme court justice for (1) not being candid when he told a reporter during an interview that he had “very little” input in the renovation and furnishing of his office; (2) having 2 new computers and a printer owned by the Court installed in his home that were used primarily for personal purposes by the justice, his wife, and/or his son; (3) using a Court-owned vehicle for at least 4 personal trips; and (4) his conviction by a federal jury of 10 felony counts, most related to his personal use of state vehicles; the Court also annulled his license to practice law in the state, permanently enjoined him from seeking public office by election or appointment in the state, fined him $3,000, and ordered that he pay costs of $5,871.12. In the Matter of Loughry, Order (West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals May 16, 2019).
  • Based on the recommendation of a judicial conduct panel after the judge admitted the allegations in the complaint filed by the Judicial Commission, the Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended a judge for 5 days without pay for (1) initiating an ex parte communication with a prosecutor about plea negotiations in 1 case and (2) independently investigating a defendant on the internet prior to sentencing in a second case. Judicial Commission v. Piontek, Opinion (Wisconsin Supreme Court May 21, 2019).

 

 

Recent cases

  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for threatening to hold 2 police officers in contempt for failing to comply with his order to arrest a woman for violating a harassment injunction entered in a proceeding from which the judge had recused himself; the Commission also directed the judge to complete a judicial ethics course at his own expense.  Guerrero, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct March 29, 2019).
  • Approving a stipulation and the recommendation of the Judicial Qualifications Commission, the Florida Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for, during a felony criminal trial, ordering his courtroom deputy, loudly and in front of the jury, to remove one of the defendant’s attorneys from a sidebar conference and then denying the defendant’s disqualification motion.  Inquiry Concerning Bailey (Florida Supreme Court April 11, 2019).
  • Approving a stipulation and the recommendation of the Judicial Qualifications Commission, the Florida Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for introducing partisan political activity into his re-election campaign by identifying himself as a registered Republican while being interviewed by a newspaper’s editorial board and touting his endorsement by a partisan political organization affiliated with the Democratic Party at a judicial candidate forum.  Inquiry Concerning Kollra (Florida Supreme Court April 18, 2019).
  • Based on a settlement agreement, the Michigan Supreme Court suspended a judge for 45 days without pay based on her guilty plea to disorderly conduct–littering and her admission to careless driving, a civil infraction.  In re McDonald (Michigan Supreme Court April 25, 2019).
  • Granting a joint motion for approval of the recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Performance based on stipulations of fact, the Mississippi Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge and fined him $1,683.34 for (1) failing to timely rule in 28 civil cases and (2) entering a judgment in favor of a plaintiff without holding a hearing on the merits of the case.  Commission on Judicial Performance v. McGee (Mississippi Supreme Court April 4, 2019).
  • Based on a stipulation of facts and agreed recommended sanction, the Mississippi Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge and fined him $500 for ordering a deputy clerk to rescind a warrant for the arrest of his former girlfriend that had been issued by another judge based on his own affidavit.  Commission on Judicial Performance v. Burton (Mississippi Supreme Court April 25, 2019).
  • Granting a petition to accept a stipulation agreement and consent to discipline, the New Mexico Supreme Court publicly censured a judge for a conflict with his next-door neighbors.  In the Matter of Guthrie, Order and public censure (New Mexico Supreme Court April 8, 2019).
  • Granting a petition to accept a stipulation agreement and consent to discipline, the New Mexico Supreme Court publicly censured a judge for, in a conversation with the county manager, threatening to have the governor veto funds for the county if the courthouse security measures the judge thought were necessary were not provided.  In the Matter of Mitchell, Order and public censure (New Mexico Supreme Court April 8, 2019).
  • Adopting the findings of the Board on Professional Conduct based on stipulations of facts, the Ohio Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for (1) presiding over numerous cases in which he had served as attorney of record and (2) failing to timely notify multiple clients that he was terminating his representation following his appointment to the bench.  Disciplinary Counsel v. Rusu (Ohio Supreme Court April 3, 2019).
  • Based on stipulations, the Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline severely reprimanded a former judge and fined him $5,000 for engaging in sexual relations with the girlfriend of a treatment court defendant, sending salacious text messages, and presiding in cases in which the attorney representing him in the investigation appeared.  In re Shaw, Opinion (Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline July 18, 2018), Order (April 23, 2019).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned a judge for affirmatively allowing a photo constituting an endorsement of a candidate for county commissioner to be posted on his Facebook page.  Public Warning of Madrid (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct April 3, 2019).
  • Based on a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a former judge for being unnecessarily confrontational toward litigants during hearings on 2 petitions for anti-harassment orders on the same day, including criticizing a domestic violence survivor for her choice in relationships.  In re Meyer, Stipulation, agreement, and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct April 26, 2019).
  • Based on a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for delays of 392 days and 132 days in deciding 2 family law cases.  In re Fennessy, Stipulation, agreement, and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct April 26, 2019).

Recent cases

  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a former judge for disclosing his candidacy for sheriff on Facebook without resigning and refusing to disclose to the Commission the identity of the individual who took his campaign Facebook page live. Barth, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct February 14, 2019).
  • The Colorado Supreme Court publicly censured a former court of appeals judge and accepted her resignation for (1) disclosing to an intimate, non-spousal partner the vote of a court of appeals division on a case prior to the issuance of the decision and (2) using inappropriate racial epithets in communications with that intimate partner, including a racially derogatory reference to a court of appeals colleague. In the Matter of Booras (Colorado Supreme Court March 11, 2019).
  • Adopting stipulated findings based on the judge’s consent, the Michigan Supreme Court publicly censured a judge for citing cases to prosecutors in 2 cases in ex parte e-mails and referring to the prosecutors as unprofessional, “a fool that I suffered,” and a “cancer” because they disclosed the e-mails to defense council. In re Filip (Michigan Supreme Court March 8, 2019).
  • The Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline publicly censured a judge for using an alternate judge whenever it was his turn to act as on-call search warrant judge for 4 years and failing to cooperate with 3 chief judges; the Commission also ordered the judge to attend the National Judicial College course “Leadership for Judges.” In the Matter of Hastings, Findings of fact, conclusions of law, and imposition of discipline (Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline March 6, 2019).
  • Granting the Judicial Standards Commission’s motion to enforce a stipulation agreement, which the judge did not contest, the New Mexico Supreme Court suspended a judge without pay for 3 weeks for, during a radio interview, misrepresenting the conduct for which he had been censured pursuant to a previous stipulation, thereby violating that agreement. In the Matter of Walton, Order (New Mexico Supreme Court March 12, 2019).
  • Granting the Judicial Standards Commission’s motion to accept a stipulation, the New Mexico Supreme Court ordered the permanent resignation of a judge for failing to immediately resign as a municipal judge when she declared her candidacy for county commission. Inquiry Concerning Encinias, Order (New Mexico Supreme Court March 29, 2019).
  • Based on the report of a referee following a hearing, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a non-lawyer judge for conveying his personal interest, as a member of the high school basketball referees’ association, in a case involving 2 referees who were accosted after a game by communicating with the judge who was handling the case, the defendant’s attorney, and the district attorney’s office. In the Matter of Forando, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct March 25, 2019).

 

 

 

 

Recent cases

  • Accepting the findings and recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Conduct, the Alaska Supreme Court ordered that a judge be immediately placed on medical disability retirement for a disability that seriously interferes with her performance of judicial duties and that is or may become permanent. In the Disability Matter Involving Greene, Order (Alaska Supreme Court January 11, 2019).
  • Pursuant to the judge’s retirement and agreement not to serve in the judiciary, the Arkansas Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission publicly reprimanded a former judge for improperly using court premises, equipment, or other resources for extra-judicial activities that did not concern the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice and improperly using court computer equipment after regular work hours at the office, as he admitted under oath during divorce litigation. Smith, Letter of reprimand and agreement not to serve in the judiciary (Arkansas Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission February 22, 2019).
  • The California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly censured a former judge and barred him from holding judicial office for (1) allowing a business to use his testimonial on its web-site without assuring that it did not use his judicial title; (2) ordering defendants in 5 cases to use an alcohol monitoring service without disclosing that his son worked for the company and that the owner was a friend and ordering a defendant to pay restitution to the company contrary to the law and based on a letter from his son; (3) appointing an attorney as a special master without disclosing that the attorney was a personal friend; (4) receiving improper gifts from Court Appointed Special Advocates, an attorney he had appointed as a master, and a law school; (5) failing to accurately report travel-related payments or reimbursements for attending judicial education programs; (6) commenting in the courthouse that gay men are “snappy” dressers;” (7) running for California Attorney General without taking a leave of absence and using his judicial title to raise funds for and promote his campaign; (8) failing to file a candidate intention statement until after his campaign had received contributions in violation of the Political Reform Act; and (9) permitting a campaign coordinator to use his judicial title on the Facebook page for his campaign for Attorney General and in posts on her law firm’s Facebook page promoting his candidacy. Inquiry Concerning Bailey, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance February 27, 2019).
  • Approving a second revised stipulation, the Florida Supreme Court suspended a judge for 90-days without pay, fined her $5,000, and publicly reprimanded her for failing to take reasonable steps to stay apprised of her financial circumstances and failing to verify the accuracy of her 2016 and 2017 financial disclosures, which did not report that the accommodations and other benefits she received on 3 trips with her husband were provided by the hotel for free. Ortiz (Florida Supreme Court January 29, 2019).
  • Accepting a conditional agreement and petition to dismiss as moot following the judge’s resignation and the closing of his court, the Indiana Supreme Court dismissed the statement of charges filed by the Commission on Judicial Qualifications alleging that a non-lawyer judge, without the authorization of the county prosecutor’s office and contrary to the prosecutor’s directions, permitted state infraction cases to be filed in the city court and allowed individuals to be placed in the infraction deferral program, used the prosecutor’s signature stamp to approve deferral agreements, permitted juveniles to participate in a deferral program contrary to statute, and dismissed with prejudice state infractions in which the court had accepted partial payments with no adjudication. In the Matter of Robison, 116 N.E.3d 452 (Indiana 2019).
  • Based on the judge’s agreement, the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission suspended a judge for 7 days without pay for leaving the scene of a vehicular accident. In re Roberts, Agreed order of suspension (Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission January 17, 2019).
  • Based on the judge’s consent, the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline ordered a judge to resign and to be barred from serving in judicial office based on his lack of knowledge and ability to handle the legal and administrative duties of his family court docket. In the Matter of Humke, Stipulation and order of consent to discipline (Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline January 11, 2019).
  • Adopting the findings and recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct, the New Jersey Supreme Court suspended a judge for 2 months for surreptitiously recording 3 meetings with other judges and denying that she recorded 1 of the meetings. In the Matter of Gross-Quatrone, Order (New Jersey Supreme Court January 24, 2019).  The Court does not describe the judge’s conduct; this summary is based on the Committee’s presentment.
  • Granting a petition to accept a stipulation, the New Mexico Supreme Court ordered the permanent resignation of a judge based on her arrest for driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs and the resulting criminal proceedings. Inquiry Concerning Walker, Order (New Mexico Supreme Court January 31, 2019).
  • Accepting an agreed statement of facts and joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a non-lawyer judge for invoking his judicial position when asking the police for assistance in unlocking his personal vehicle and threatening to refuse to do arraignments if they refused his request. In the Matter of Abbott, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct February 7, 2019).
  • Accepting an agreed statement of fact and joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a non-lawyer judge for holding a preliminary hearing without the defendant’s attorney after his request to adjourn because he was required to appear at a sentencing proceeding in federal court at the same time and committing errors during the hearing that gave the appearance she was biased against the defendant. In the Matter of Wachtman, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct February 7, 2019).  The judge is not an attorney.
  • Accepting the Board of Professional Conduct’s findings of fact and misconduct, based on stipulations and an agreement, the Ohio Supreme Court suspended a judge for 1 year for (1) reducing bail in a case from $350,000 to $85,000 following ex parte texts from the defendant’s attorney forwarded to her by her bailiff and (2) changing her verdict in a bench trial from guilty to not guilty out of frustration with the prosecutor for refusing to dismiss an unrelated charge against the same defendant; the Court stayed the suspension conditioned on the judge not engaging in further misconduct, paying the costs of the proceeding, and completing 6 hours of CLE. Disciplinary Counsel v. Salerno (Ohio Supreme Court February 12, 2019).
  • Accepting a consent-to-discipline agreement, the Ohio Supreme Court suspended a former judge from the practice of law for 6 months for his actions after his 17-year-old daughter was pulled over for speeding, including trying to talk to the prosecutor about her case during a hearing in an unrelated case, complaining that the state trooper who pulled her over had not shown him professional courtesy, saying in unrelated cases that he did not trust troopers like he used to, testifying as a radar expert in his daughter’s case, and complaining that the magistrate who presided in his daughter’s case had questioned his credibility. Disciplinary Counsel v. Marshall (Ohio Supreme Court February 28, 2019).
  • Based on an agreement, the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for delay in entering a final ruling in a domestic relations case, failing to promptly enter a ruling following a remand from the state supreme court, and failing to respond to notices from the Board. Weiss (Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct January 11, 2019).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a former judge for engaging in a sexual relationship with an employee and giving her preferential treatment in raises and promotions. Public Reprimand of Riley (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct February 20, 2019).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned a judge for telling a jury that the defendant was not guilty and exhibiting prejudice against the prosecution and bias in favor of the defense during the trial. Public Warning of Robison (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct February 20, 2019).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned a judge for appointing as foreperson of a county grand jury a detective whose agency investigates cases in the county. Public Warning of Strother (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct February 20, 2019).

 

Recent cases

  • The California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished a judge for (1) in 3 misdemeanor probation cases, improperly remanding the defendants and delaying setting revocation hearings until after the defendants served a predetermined time in jail, which conveyed the appearance that the judge was circumventing the sheriff’s department’s early release program; (2) improperly responding to a peremptory challenge; (3) referencing her personal life when discussing the ability of 2 defendants to pay fines; and (4) being discourteous to several criminal defendants. In the Matter Concerning Elswick, Public admonishment (California Commission on Judicial Performance December 13, 2018).
  • Based on a stipulation for discipline by consent, the California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished a former judge for making comments in a restraining order proceeding that were undignified, inappropriate, belittling, and injurious to the parties and based on gender stereotypes, raising the appearance of gender bias. In the Matter Concerning Stafford, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance December 13, 2018).
  • Granting the Judicial Standards Commission’s petition to accept a stipulation to permanent resignation in lieu of further disciplinary proceedings, the New Mexico Supreme Court ordered the permanent resignation of a judge; the Commission had filed a notice of formal proceedings alleging that the judge had (1) during a conversation outside the courtroom, threatened the city attorney with contempt and/or arrest when there were no proceedings involving him pending before the judge and she was not on the bench; (2) telephoned the city library director and yelled, cursed, and used offensive and foul language toward her and threatened to have her fired because the judge did not agree with an ordinance concerning library procedures; (3) after a board of trustees/city council meeting that she attended and in which citizens had complained about code violations likely to come before her court, met with the citizens and announced her position on the violations; (4) informed some citizens that she did not agree with and would not enforce the library ordinance; (5) contrary to the library ordinance, dismissed pending library cases for no apparent reason and/or allowed the time to expire on pending cases so she could dismiss them, making statements to the effect of “dismiss all those complaints” and “I’m going to let the six-month rule run on the others;” (6) made statements to the effect that she can do as she pleases and get what she wants “because I’m the judge;” (7) called members of the city’s board of trustees to use their influence in getting her demands for herself and resources for her court; (8) after adjudging a defendant guilty in a weed and rubbish ordinance case, failed to impose any penalty as mandated by the ordinance, allowed him to pay only court costs, and stated in open court that otherwise the code enforcer would just keep “bugging” the defendant; (9) changed penalty assessment traffic citations to hearings, contrary to law; (10) informed her neighbor ex parte that the neighbor had a warrant or would have a warrant if she failed to appear in court, failed to promptly notify the other party of the communication, and failed to disqualify from the neighbor’s case; (11) informed a relative of her neighbor ex parte that she had a warrant or would have a warrant if she failed to appear in court, failed to promptly notify the other party of the communication, and failed to recuse from the case; (12) granted ex parte requests from the defendants in 2 cases for continuances without providing the prosecuting officers notice and an opportunity to be heard; (13) attempted to get special treatment for travel and per diem reimbursements even after being told her requests did not comply with statutory requirements; and (14) refused to sign per diem paperwork for her court staff to attend out-of-town training because she disagreed with the manner in which the city made the financial reimbursements. In the Matter of Soriano, Order (New Mexico Supreme Court December 3, 2018).
  • Granting a petition to accept a stipulated agreement and consent to discipline, the New Mexico Supreme Court publicly censured a judge for refusing to allow an emergency bathroom break for the alleged victim in a domestic violence case, allowing the jury to witness the removal of the victim’s chair, reading the jurors’ notes in the case, and preparing a witness statement for the court interpreter about the request. Inquiry Concerning Madrid, Order and public censure (December 31, 2018).
  • Accepting the stipulation of the parties, the New Mexico Supreme Court publicly censured a judge for failing to transfer a case to the district court after the defendant’s competency became an issue and holding the defendant indefinitely, resulting in the defendant’s incarceration for over 4 months without due process of law. In the Matter of Van Gundy, Order and public censure (New Mexico Supreme Court December 31, 2018).
  • Accepting a stipulation based on the judge’s resignation and affirmation not to seek or accept judicial office in the future, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct concluded a matter involving a former judge, who waived confidentiality to the limited extent that the stipulation can become public. In the Matter of Scolton, Decision and order (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 6, 2018).  In a formal written complaint, the Commission had alleged that the judge, (1) for over 3 years, failed to timely report and deposit court funds to the State Comptroller and the town’s chief fiscal officer; (2) for almost 27 years, failed to properly notify the Department of Motor Vehicles of 2,612 defendants in motor vehicle cases who were convicted, failed to pay a fine, or failed to answer the charge; (3) for over 3 years, failed to monitor his official court e-mail account or respond to e-mails received by that account; and (4) from mid-2017 through May 2018, failed to use a computer and software provided by the Office of Court Administration to facilitate the court’s financial and case administration.
  • Accepting a stipulation based on the judge’s resignation and affirmation not to seek or accept judicial office in the future, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct concluded a matter involving a former judge, who waived confidentiality to the limited extent that the stipulation can become public; the judge had been served with a formal written complaint alleging that he made homophobic and/or otherwise inappropriate remarks and gestures to an attorney. In the Matter of Hallett, Decision and order (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 13, 2018).
  • Based on an agreed statement of facts, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a non-lawyer judge for failing to account for the receipt of over $15,000 in court funds or promptly remit those funds to the Office of the State Comptroller as required and accumulated a surplus of funds in his court bank account that he could not identify. In the Matter of McDermott, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 12, 2018).
  • Based on the report of a referee following a hearing, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for, after her vehicle struck a police van, voluntarily identifying herself as a judge to the police several times, presenting her judicial identification card, and making several other references to her judicial status, and repeatedly questioning the necessity for an accident report and the delay in preparing the report in an attempt to curtail the investigation and be allowed to leave. In the Matter of Michels, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 27, 2018).
  • Adopting the findings and recommendation of the Board of Professional Conduct, which were based on stipulations, the Ohio Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a magistrate for presiding over 3 cases in which she had previously participated personally and substantially as a lawyer for a government agency. Disciplinary Counsel v. Holben (Ohio Supreme Court December 20, 2018).
  • Based on joint stipulations of fact in lieu of trial, the Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Conduct removed a former judge who had pled nolo contendere to “criminal activity related to the exercise of his judicial duties,” that is, retaining the services of constables predicated on their accession to his demand that they contribute to his judicial re-election campaign fund from the income they received from performing constable services for his judicial office. In re Jennings, Opinion (Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Conduct December 19, 2018).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned a judge for authorizing the use of his name, title, and likeness on a mailer advertising a campaign event for a candidate for state senate. Public Warning of Cano (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 13, 2018).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for issuing 2 felony arrest warrants based on complaints that did not contain sufficient probable cause and on information outside the 4 corners of the complaints; the Commission also ordered the judge to obtain 2 hours of instruction with a mentor. Public Reprimand of Brady (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct November 14, 2018).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for (1) inappropriately touching another judge and 2 court clerks at a social function and sending the other judge an offensive text message and (2) making disparaging comments about the district attorney’s office in court in 2 cases. Public Reprimand of Williams (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 14, 2018).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for, in 2 cases involving the same father but different mothers, ordering the children removed from the mothers’ custody and given to the father in the absence of a verified pleading or affidavit, denying the mothers an opportunity to be heard, and failing to be dignified and courteous. Public Reprimand of Williams (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 14, 2018).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned 2 judges for engaging in joint campaign efforts, including a joint fund-raiser and joint campaign materials; the Commission also ordered both judges to obtain 2 hours of instruction with mentors. Public Warning of Martin and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 20, 2018); Public Warning of Cooks and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 20, 2018).
  • Based on a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission publicly admonished a judge for responding “nine inches” after a female court clerk stated “I have a question for you” to him after a court session. In re Kathren, Stipulation, agreement, and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 7, 2018).
  • Based on a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for driving under the influence. In re Tanner, Stipulation, agreement, and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 7, 2018).
  • Based on a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a supreme court justice for 2 Facebook posts soliciting support for non-profit organizations. In re Yu, Stipulation, agreement, and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 7, 2018).
  • Based on a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for a post on his Facebook page encouraging people to attend a charity pancake feed. In re Svaren, Stipulation, agreement, and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 7, 2018).

 

 

Recent cases

  • Based on the judge’s agreement, the Arkansas Commission on Judicial Discipline & Disability publicly admonished a judge for having contacts with litigants and/or witnesses in cases pending in his court. Letter of Admonishment to Carruth (Arkansas Commission on Judicial Discipline & Disability November 16, 2018).
  • Based on the judge’s agreement, the Arkansas Commission Judicial Discipline & Disability publicly admonished a judge for an incident while he was a judge-elect in which a bag of methamphetamine was found in a hotel room he had shared with a woman. Letter of Admonishment to O’Hern (Arkansas Commission Judicial Discipline Disability November 16, 2018).
  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for holding a probation revocation hearing with the defendant present but without notice to the prosecution or the defendant’s attorney and revoking a second defendant’s probation without notice to the prosecution or the defendant’s attorney. Bluff, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct September 18, 2018).
  • Approving the findings, conclusions, and recommendation of the Judicial Qualifications Commission based on a stipulation, the Florida Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for providing a character reference letter, on her official court stationery, on behalf of a criminal defendant awaiting sentencing in federal court. Inquiry Concerning White-Labora (Florida Supreme Court November 15, 2018).
  • Accepting an agreement, the Georgia Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for her habitual tardiness in starting court and her excessive absenteeism. Inquiry Concerning Stokes (Georgia Supreme Court November 5, 2018).
  • 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 identifying himself as a judge to court personnel when disputing his own child support payments and discussing child emancipation. In the Matter of Palmer, Order (New Jersey Supreme Court November 8, 2018).  The Court does not describe the judge’s conduct; this summary is based on the Committee’s presentment.
  • Accepting an agreed statement of facts and recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for failing to disqualify himself in 3 matters arising out of a boundary dispute involving his neighbor’s daughter that he had previously discussed ex parte with his neighbor. In the Matter of Porter, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct November 13, 2018).
  • Adopting the findings and recommendation of the Board of Professional Conduct, which were based on stipulations of fact, misconduct, and aggravating and mitigating factors, the Ohio Supreme Court suspended a former magistrate from the practice of law for 6 months for failing to accurately report his work hours and leave on his timecard; the suspension was stayed on the condition that he engage in no further misconduct. Disciplinary Counsel v. Wochna (Ohio Supreme Court November 8, 2018).