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).

Recent cases

  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for failing to de-escalate a contentious hearing in an eviction case, raising his own voice toward the landlord, and presiding over a request for a harassment injunction against the landlord by one of the tenants. Delaney, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct September 18, 2018).
  • The California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished a judge for his practice of delegating his responsibility to conduct case management conferences to his court clerk. Public Admonishment Public Admonishment of Hiroshige (California Commission on Judicial Performance October 24, 2018).
  • As recommended by the Judicial Qualifications Commission, the Florida Supreme Court removed a judge from office for campaign statements posted on her Facebook page and in an e-mail implying that her opponent was unfit for judicial office because he was a criminal defense attorney. Inquiry Concerning Santino (Florida Supreme Court October 19, 2018).
  • The Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline publicly reprimanded a former judge for her campaign’s posting of a photoshopped picture of herself and an actor on her campaign Facebook page, misleading the public into believing that Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson had endorsed her re-election, and for commenting on the post. In the Matter of Almase, Findings of fact, conclusions of law, and imposition of discipline (Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline October 22, 2018).
  • Granting the Judicial Standards Commission’s petition to accept a stipulation, 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 driven his personal vehicle after consuming alcoholic beverages at a Super Bowl party in February 2018, had told a state police officer he was a municipal judge while the officer was administering field sobriety tests, and had asked a municipal police officer, whom he also knew was a municipal judge, to help him as the state police officer was escorting him to his vehicle. In the Matter of Dominguez, Order (New Mexico Supreme Court October 29, 2018).
  • Accepting the determination of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, the New York Court of Appeals removed a judge from office for (1) her conviction for driving while intoxicated; (2) being discourteous and seeking preferred treatment from the arresting officers; (3) violating the terms of her conditional discharge by ignoring orders of the court and leaving the country for an extended vacation without notice to the court or her lawyer, resulting in the revocation of her conditional discharge; (4) failing to disqualify herself from the arraignment of a former client and attempting to have his case transferred in a manner that she thought might benefit him; and (5) making discourteous, insensitive, and undignified comments before counsel and litigants in court. In the Matter of Astacio, Opinion (New York Court of Appeals October 16, 2018).
  • Accepting the determination of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, the New York Court of Appeals removed a judge from office for (1) on numerous occasions, acting impatiently, raising his voice, and making demeaning and insulting remarks, often in open court; (2) twice striking witness testimony and dismissing petitions for insufficient proof as a result of counsel’s reflexive use of the word “okay;” (3) awarding counsel fees without providing an opportunity to be heard; and (4) failing to cooperate with the Commission. In the Matter of O’Connor, Opinion (New York Court of Appeals October 16, 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 non-lawyer judge who had resigned after the Commission apprised her that it was investigating a complaint that she had interjected herself into a pending custody proceeding by criticizing one of the parties in an e-mail to the court, identifying herself as a judge, and lending the prestige of judicial office to advance a private interest. In the Matter of Crofoot, Decision and order (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct October 26, 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 non-lawyer judge who had resigned after the Commission had apprised him that it was investigating a complaint that, in a landlord-tenant matter, he had ordered the eviction of the tenants without conducting a hearing or affording them a full opportunity to be heard. In the Matter of Lustyik, Decision and order (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct October 26, 2018).
  • Adopting the recommendation of the Judicial Standards Commission based on stipulations, the North Carolina Supreme Court suspended a judge without pay for 30 days for failing for more than 5 years to rule on a motion for permanent child support. In re Chapman (North Carolina Supreme Court October 26, 2018).
  • Based on stipulations of fact, misconduct, and aggravating and mitigating factors and a joint recommendation, 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 time card; the suspension was stayed on the condition that he engage in no further misconduct. Disciplinary Counsel v. Dunn (Ohio Supreme Court October 24, 2018).

 

Recent cases

  • Agreeing with the recommendation of the Judicial Qualifications Commission, the Florida Supreme Court removed a judge from office for (1) ordering the search of a litigant in open court and the seizure of money found on him; (2) misrepresenting facts about his campaign opponent; (3) publicly pledging during a candidate forum not to hold any statute unconstitutional; and (4) holding first appearance hearings without counsel present on the Saturday of a Memorial Day weekend during his campaign. Inquiry Concerning DuPont (Florida Supreme Court September 6, 2018).
  • The Maryland Commission on Judicial Disabilities publicly reprimanded a judge for failing to disclose on a questionnaire he submitted to apply for an open judicial seat that the Commission had previously privately reprimanded him. In the Matter of Wright, Public reprimand (Maryland Commission on Judicial Disabilities September 24, 2018).
  • Following a hearing, the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline publicly reprimanded a judge for stating, during a meeting of a domestic violence task force, that women should be concerned that cuts in funding to the Violence Against Woman Act would put women back in their place and, when asked, “are you saying that we need to be in a place?” responding, “the kitchen and the bedroom;” the Commission also ordered the judge to pay $2,500 to the domestic violence resource center, to attend a National Judicial College course, and to send private letters of apology to the women who were at the meeting. In the Matter of Weller, Findings of fact, conclusions of law, and imposition of discipline (Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline September 20, 2018), notice of appeal filed.
  • Adopting the findings and recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct, which were based on stipulated facts and which the judge accepted, the New Jersey Supreme Court publicly censured a judge for referring to his judicial status during an encounter with state troopers; the Court also ordered that he continue to be disqualified from DWI matters for at least a year. In the Matter of Benitez, Order (New Jersey Supreme Court September 6, 2018).  The Court does not describe the judge’s conduct; this summary is based on the Committee’s presentment.
  • Adopting the findings and recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct, which were based on stipulated facts and which the judge accepted, the New Jersey Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for involving herself in the scheduling and processing of a friend’s case. In the Matter of Wright, Order (New Jersey Supreme Court September 21, 2018).  The Court does not describe the judge’s conduct; this summary is based on the Committee’s presentment.
  • Based on the report of a 3-judge panel recommending removal, which the judge accepted, the New Jersey Supreme Court removed a judge for using her judicial office to influence the police department to act on behalf of a former intern in a custody dispute and making material misrepresentations to the police department. In the Matter of DeAvila-Silebi (New Jersey Supreme Court September 26, 2018).  The Court’s order does not describe the judge’s misconduct; this summary is based on the report of the 3-judge panel.
  • 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 against a former non-lawyer judge who had resigned after Commission informed him that it was investigating allegations that he had made a culturally insensitive comment to a defendant in sentencing; yelled at his co-judge from the bench in a denigrating manner and using vulgarity; and posted racially offensive material in the office area of the courthouse. In the Matter of Tilney, Decision and order (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 13, 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 against a former non-lawyer judge who had pled guilty to 3 state charges for stealing over $3,000 in court funds from the town or state and engaging in a check-kiting scheme to obtain from 3 banks over $1,000 that she did not have in her business or personal accounts. In the Matter of Martin, Decision and order (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 17, 2018).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for organizing a school supply drive using court staff and advertising it in Facebook posts, solicitating donations to an individual in a Facebook post, and advertising his donation of a rifle to a charitable organization’s raffle in a Facebook post. Public Admonition of Metts (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct October 3, 2018).
  • 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 a confidential complaint alleging the judge was “never in her office” and was otherwise inaccessible to members of the public attempting to transact business with her court. Hicks, Voluntary agreement to resign from judicial office in lieu of disciplinary action (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct October 3, 2018).

 

 

Recent cases

  • Based on a stipulated resolution, the Arizona Supreme Court publicly censured a judge for knowingly permitting his bailiff to work for 2 court service providers. In the Matter of Roberts, Order (Arizona Supreme Court August 28, 2018).
  • Based on a stipulation, the California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly censured a former commissioner and barred him from receiving an assignment, appointment, or reference of work from any California state court for (1) posts and re-posts on his public Facebook page that reflected, among other things, anti-Muslim sentiment, anti-immigration sentiment, anti-Native American sentiment, anti-gay marriage and transgender sentiment, anti-liberal and anti-Democrat sentiment, anti-California sentiment, opposition to then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, praise for Donald Trump, accusations against then-President Barack Obama, a lack of respect for the federal justice system, and contempt for the poor and (2) representing to his presiding judge and the Commission that he had taken the posts down when that was not true, although he believed the posts were no longer publicly viewable. In the Matter Concerning Gianquinto, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance August 22, 2018).
  • Agreeing with the findings of the 3 special masters following a hearing, the California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly censured a former judge and barred him from seeking or holding judicial office for (1) modifying a contempt sentence to deny good time credits to a defendant based on an ex parte communication with the sheriff’s department and subsequently granting good time credits for reasons unrelated to the merits and (2) offering advice to a prosecutor on an issue related to the trial outside the presence of defense counsel while the jury was deliberating. Inquiry Concerning Mills, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance August 28, 2018).
  • Following a hearing on a complaint filed by the Judicial Inquiry Board, the Illinois Courts Commission publicly reprimanded an appellate judge for soliciting paid speaking engagements using his judicial position. In re Steigman (Illinois Courts Commission August 13, 2018).
  • Based on a conditional agreement for discipline, the Indiana Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for failing to recuse from a case in which his friend had received a ticket and securing favorable treatment for his friend. In the Matter of Johanningsmeier (Indiana Supreme Court August 10, 2018).
  • Accepting an agreement for discipline by consent, the South Carolina Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a former judge for calling court personnel “heifers” and “DW” (double wide) and using the probate court account for personal financial dealings. In the Matter of Peeler (South Carolina Supreme Court August 22, 2018).
  • Following a trial de novo, a Special Court of Review Appointed by the Texas Supreme Court publicly admonished a former judge for issuing a writ of attachment that resulted in a witness’s involuntary confinement for 28 days without the legal prerequisites being met or due process for the witness. In re Bond (Texas Special Court of Review August 10, 2018).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned a judge for (1) twice modifying a protective order based on ex parte communications and (2) ordering a couple incarcerated for contempt without due process; the Commission also ordered that the judge obtain 2 hours of instruction with a mentor. Public Warning of Buck and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct August 9, 2018).