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).

 

 

Recent cases

  • The California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished a judge for failing to disclose his personal relationship with an attorney every time the attorney appeared before him.  Public Admonishment of Mason (California Commission on Judicial Performance December 3, 2019).
  • Approving a stipulation for discipline by consent, the California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished a judge for (1) speaking sharply to a female attorney who was new to the felony trial department and hitting her hand at the bench with enough force to leave a visible impression and (2) using crude and inappropriate language when talking with a court administrator about a case involving sexual misconduct by a judge in another state.  Inquiry Concerning Jacobson, Decision and Order (California Commission on Judicial Performance December 19, 2019).
  • Adopting the recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Discipline based on a stipulation, the Colorado Supreme Court suspended a judge for 28 days without pay and publicly censured him for driving under the influence and crashing his vehicle into trees and bushes while avoiding a collision with another vehicle.  In the Matter of Timbreza (Colorado Supreme Court December 2, 2019).
  • Based on an agreement, the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission publicly reprimanded a judge for (1) his handling of a small claims case and (2) holding a hearing in 2 criminal cases even though a petition for his disqualification was pending.  In re Wright, Public reprimand (Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission December 23, 2019).
  • Following a hearing, the Nevada Commission Judicial Discipline publicly admonished a hearing master for ignoring an attorney’s objections to her questioning of a juvenile defendant, yelling at the attorney, telling the juvenile that her probation would be increased if she refused to answer her questions, preventing the attorney from making a record on his objection, and threatening to contact the attorney’s boss; the hearing master was also ordered to complete a course at the National Judicial College.  In the Matter of Henry, Findings of fact, conclusions of law, and imposition of discipline (Nevada Commission Judicial Discipline December 12, 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 who waived confidentiality to the limited extent that the stipulation can become public; the Commission had been investigating several complaints alleging that the judge had (1) failed to enforce a town ordinance regulating storage of “junk” on residential properties; (2) failed to properly inform a defendant during an arraignment of his due process rights; and (3) sent a letter to the editor of a local paper in which he made political and partisan statements, criticized public officials and town residents concerning a local controversy; and criticized the governor’s executive decisions and policies and described the governor as “corrupt” at a time when he was running for re-election.  In the Matter of Chamberlain, Decision and order (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 5, 2019).
  • Accepting an agreed statement of facts and recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a judge for (1) using profanity and invoking his judicial office in an attempt to have smoking and/or drug-related paraphernalia removed from a store’s window display and (2) making an insensitive remark about a co-defendant’s ethnicity while acting as a private attorney in a civil case and asserting his judicial office when confronted about his remark.  In the Matter of Tawil, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 12, 2019).
  • Accepting an agreed statement of facts and recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a judge for appearing and acting as his daughter’s attorney in a family court matter on 3 occasions and invoking his judicial title in several instances during 2 court appearances.  In the Matter of Edwards, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 20, 2019).
  • The Oklahoma Supreme Court (1) publicly reprimanded a judge for, while a candidate, violating rules concerning election expenditures and reports and (2) publicly admonished her for neglecting to pay over 60 parking tickets and county, state, and federal tax obligations for several years; the Court also placed her on probation, including completing at least 5 mentoring sessions with an experienced judge.  In the Matter of Coleman (Oklahoma Supreme Court December 3, 2019).
  • The Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board issued a letter of counsel to a judge for telling a police officer at a traffic stop to “check the registration on this plate soon;” the Board made the letter public with the judge’s consent.  Letter to Reinaker (Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board December 13, 2019).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned a judge for endorsing on his Facebook page his brother’s campaign for a position on the school board.  Public Warning of Saucedo (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct December 5, 2019).
  • The Utah Supreme Court approved the Judicial Conduct Commission’s reprimand of a judge for texting to court clerks a “short, graphic video showing a man’s scrotum.”  Inquiry Concerning Dow (Utah Supreme Court September 13, 2019).

 

Recent cases

  • Following a hearing on a complaint filed by the Judicial Inquiry Commission, the Alabama Court of the Judiciary publicly reprimanded a judge for initiating and considering ex parte communications with a mother and father about pending child custody and visitation issues.  In the Matter of Wiggins, Final judgment (Alabama Court of the Judiciary November 18, 2019).
  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for, after his dismissal of a civil suit was overturned on appeal, speaking to the plaintiff in a condescending and mocking tone and attempting to dissuade her from exercising her right to a jury trial.  McMurry, Amended order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct November 8, 2019).
  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a special master for proposing that her domestic partner act as a third party neutral in a family law matter without disclosing the relationship.  Paus, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct November 8, 2019).
  • The California Commission on Judicial Performance removed a judge from office for (1) remanding a defendant into custody without resetting bail in open court and engaging in an ex parte communication with the deputy district attorney about the case; (2) engaging in a pattern of conduct toward a deputy public defender that was unwelcome, undignified, discourteous, and offensive; (3) making unwelcome, undignified, discourteous, and offensive comments to and about other female attorneys who appeared before him; (4) making unwelcome, undignified, discourteous, and offensive comments to his court reporter and female defendants; (5) revoking a criminal defendant’s own recognizance release in the defendant’s absence without affording him or his attorney notice and the opportunity to be heard and creating the appearance that he was retaliating for the filing of a peremptory challenge against him by the defendant’s attorney; and (6) failing to always disclose his son’s employment in the district attorney’s office.  Inquiry Concerning Laettner, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance November 6, 2019).
  • Based on the findings and recommendation of the Judicial Qualifications Commission and a stipulation, the Florida Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for her comments in 2 criminal cases.  Inquiry Concerning Lemonidis (Florida Supreme Court November 14, 2019).  The Court also agreed that the judge should continue to participate in stress management counseling.
  • Following a hearing, the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission publicly reprimanded a former judge for intervening on behalf of her ex-husband after he was arrested on several criminal charges including possession of a controlled substance, and texting an ex parte communication to a Commission member just before the hearing.  In re Maze, Findings, conclusions, and final order (Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission November 7, 2019).
  • Based on a presentment by the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct, the New Jersey Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for a series of aggressive, ex parte emails on New Year’s Eve to a prosecutor about scheduling a trial; a hostile ex parte exchange with the prosecutor in the courtroom; and creating a conflict that required reassignment of the case.  In the Matter of Jones-Tucker, Order (New Jersey Supreme Court November 20, 2019).
  • Based on a petition to accept a stipulation to permanent resignation from judicial office in lieu of further proceedings, the New Mexico Supreme Court ordered a former judge to never again hold or become a candidate for any judicial office in New Mexico; the Judicial Standards Commission had filed a notice of formal proceedings, which the judge contested, alleging that the judge had violated defendants’ due process rights; failed to follow the law and court procedures regarding contempt, warrants, bond, and conditions of release; and engaged in ex parte communications.  In the Matter of Harrison, Order (New Mexico Supreme Court November 5, 2019).
  • Based on findings of misconduct, the Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline suspended a judge for 45 days without pay and fined him $5,000 for (1) viewing images of naked and partially naked women while in his office and (2) having judicial employees grade papers and make copies of handouts on the court’s copier for classes he was teaching.  In re Muth, Opinion and order (Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline November 8, 2019).  The Court also placed him on probation for 1 year, conditioned on his undergoing “a psychological and psychosocial assessment by a licensed psychologist to determine the cognitive, behavioral, and emotional motivation leading to the inappropriate sexualized behavior” and completing any recommended treatment recommendations.
  • Based on an agreement, the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for sharing partisan posts on Facebook on issues such as the credibility of federal agencies; professional athletes kneeling during the national anthem; the effect of undocumented immigrants on the economy; the Democratic party platform; support for or opposition to presidential candidates; the Black Lives Matter movement; media bias; fatal shootings by police officers; anti-Jihadist sentiment; transgender bathrooms and boys in girls’ locker rooms; and undocumented immigrants voting in Virginia.  Lammey (Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct November 15, 2019).  The judge also agreed to complete a program addressing ethical issues and social media; to refrain from making comments or disseminating posts substantially similar to those that were the subject of the reprimand; and to keep his social media platforms “private.”
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned a judge for refusing to perform same-sex weddings while continuing to perform opposite-sex weddings.  Public Warning of Hensley (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct November 12, 2019).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned a judge for his comments to a newspaper reporter and in a letter to the editor about young black defendants.  Public Warning of McSpadden (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct November 12, 2019).
  • Based on a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for, without notice or a reasonable evidentiary basis, entering an order in a case to which he was not assigned that gratuitously attacked the character of 2 attorneys.  In re Spanner, Stipulation, agreement, and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct November 22, 2019).  The judge also agreed to participate in 4 hours of judicial ethics training.

Recent cases

  • Following a hearing on a complaint filed by the Judicial Inquiry Board, the Illinois Courts Commission removed a judge from office for (1) making false and misleading statements to detectives investigating the discharge of a firearm in his apartment; (2) retaliating against 2 employees who filed sexual harassment allegations against him; and (3) during the disciplinary proceedings, providing testimony that contained misrepresentations, omissions, and deceptions.  In re O’Shea, Order (Illinois Courts Commission September 27, 2019).
  • Accepting an agreed statement of facts and recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a judge for presiding over more than 2,500 civil matters involving a credit union for which his brother was an officer and board member.  In the Matter of DiMillo, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct October 1, 2019).
  • The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct removed a part-time judge for, in a series of emails to his clients in a family court matter, repeatedly denigrating in profane, vulgar, and sexist terms his clients’ daughter and her former husband, opposing counsel, the referee in the case, and school officials.  In the Matter of Senzer, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct October 9, 2019). The judge has requested review.
  • Based on a stipulation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge who, during a civil trial, threatened to file a professional grievance against the defendant’s attorney for making an offensive remark during his summation unless his client immediately offered to settle the case for $25,000.  In the Matter of Edwards, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct October 23, 2019).
  • Agreeing with the findings and recommendation of the Board of Professional Conduct, the Ohio Supreme Court indefinitely suspended a former judge from the practice of law for (1) sexual misconduct, including sexually harassing his secretary and an intern; (2) misusing county resources and staff in his campaign for the court of appeals; and (3) his guilty plea to misdemeanor charges of failing to file accurate campaign statements.  Disciplinary Counsel v. Horton (Ohio Supreme Court October 10, 2019)
  • The Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline publicly reprimanded a former judge for (1) his conduct toward court clerks, including violations of the court policy prohibiting harassment in the workplace; (2) his demeanor towards lawyers, litigants, and police officers; (3) his treatment of 2 constables; and (4) his conduct toward witnesses for the Judicial Conduct Board.  In re Hladio, Opinion (March 25, 2019), Opinion (Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline October 4, 2019).
  • Based on a stipulated record, the Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline publicly reprimanded a judge for, during his re-election campaign, publicly confronting 3 people who supported his opponent and yelling at them, insulting them, and threatening them; the Court also placed him on probation for 1 year with the condition that he submit to a psychological assessment.  In re Maruszczak, Opinion (January 9, 2019), Opinion (Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline October 4, 2019).
  • Agreeing with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, a Texas Special Court of Review publicly admonished a judge for authorizing the use of his name, title, and likeness on materials supporting a candidate for director of an electric cooperative.  In re Oakley, Opinion (Texas Special Court of Review October 25, 2019).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for failing for 15 months to enter an order on competing motions to confirm or vacate an arbitration award, communicating ex parte with counsel and then temporarily staying a valid writ of execution based on concerns about its execution during a doctor’s office hours, and failing to respond to a letter of inquiry from the Commission.  Public Reprimand of Slaughter (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct October 11, 2019).

 

Recent cases

  • Accepting a stipulation based on the judge’s resignation following a formal complaint and his 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 waived confidentiality to the limited extent that the stipulation can become public; the complaint alleged that the judge had posted on his Facebook account “a picture of a noose with the annotation, ‘IF WE WANT TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN WE WILL HAVE TO MAKE EVIL PEOPLE FEAR PUNISHMENT AGAIN,’” and the stipulation stated that the judge had “shared an image and statement on his Facebook account that was visible to the public and conveyed and/or appeared to convey racial and/or political bias, and thereby failed to act in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.”  In the Matter of Canning, Decision and Order (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 12, 2019).
  • Based on a stipulation and agreement for stated disposition, the North Carolina Supreme Court publicly censured a judge for, in a hearing to determine whether a mother should be held in contempt after her 15-year-old twin sons refused to visit with their father, directing the bailiff to handcuff the mother and escort her out of the courtroom without an opportunity to be heard and without any contemptuous behavior in the courtroom and berating and threatening the children.  In re Foster, Order (North Carolina Supreme Court September 27, 2019).
  • Based on stipulated facts and conclusions of law, the Vermont Judicial Conduct Board publicly reprimanded a former judge for failing in a probate case to complete all hearings as noticed, to follow-up and enforce orders, or to hold the guardian accountable and failing to hear and decide motions for months or longer without justification.  In re Lewis, Public reprimand (Vermont Judicial Conduct Board September 6, 2019).
  • Adopting the conclusions of a special committee, the 10th Circuit Judicial Council publicly reprimanded and admonished a U.S. District Judge for the District of Kansas for (1) giving preferential treatment and unwanted attention to female court employees in the form of sexually suggestive comments, inappropriate text messages, and excessive, non-work-related contact, often after work hours and late at night; (2) engaging in a years-long extramarital sexual relationship with a drug-using individual who was then on probation for state-court felony convictions and is now incarcerated for probation violations; and (3) being habitually late for court proceedings and meetings for years.  In re:  Complaint under the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act (Murguia), Order (10th Circuit Judicial Council September 30, 2019).

Recent cases

  • The Alabama Court of the Judiciary accepted an agreement and stipulation in which a former judge agreed to never again seek judicial office in the state and to pay over $2300 in costs and the Judicial Investigation Commission agreed to dismiss 1 count of its complaint against him; the parties stipulated that, while he was involved in a romantic relationship with an attorney, the judge had (1) appointed the attorney to cases, taken judicial action in cases in which she was attorney of record, and entered attorney’s fees declaration orders for her benefit and (2) gained access to courtroom surveillance footage to advance their private interests.  In the Matter of Kaminski, Final judgment (Alabama Court of the Judiciary August 6, 2019).
  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a former judge for dereliction of duty based on an operational review conducted by the Administrative Office of the Courts, which referred the matter to the Commission.  Martinez, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct August 13, 2019).
  • The investigative panel of the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission reported that its investigation of a magistrate who was under criminal investigation for a crime of moral turpitude had been disposed of with his resignation.  In re Hrabovsky, Report of disposition (Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission July 17, 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 judge; a formal complaint alleged that the judge had signed an arrest warrant for a husband and a stay-away order of protection on behalf of a wife even though the judge was representing the wife in a divorce action and had assisted the wife file a family offense petition against the husband based on the same incident and then continued to represent the wife for almost a year after signing the warrant and the order of protection in the related criminal case.  In the Matter of Katz, Decision and Order (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct August 9, 2019).
  • Accepting the findings of fact and conclusions of law of the Board of Professional Conduct, which were based on stipulations of fact, misconduct, and aggravating and mitigating factors, and agreeing with its recommended sanction, the Ohio Supreme Court suspended a former judge’s license to practice law for 1 year, with 6 months stayed and credit for time served under an interim suspension, for (1) his conviction on crimes related to his failure to disclose on his annual financial disclosure statements his ownership interest in an LLC that owned an office building; (2) failing to disqualify himself from cases in which several tenants in the office building appeared as counsel; (3) making derogatory statements about proposed legislation and its sponsors in a letter on official court stationery to state representatives; (4) making improper comments from the bench; (5) talking ex parte to a defendant after he had pleaded guilty; (6) refusing to apply controlling precedent in a criminal trial; and (7) conducting a hearing in Spanish rather than appointing an interpreter.  Disciplinary Counsel v. Burge (Ohio Supreme Court August 13, 2019).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for closing his courtroom and draping black fabric over the door to protest the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Public Admonition of Lipscombe (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct August 8, 2019).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned a judge for refusing to allow a litigant to review and copy the charging documents in his case until he entered a plea and for her policy and practice regarding access to court’s files; the Commission also ordered the judge to receive 2 hours of instruction with a mentor.  Public Warning of Baggett and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct August 8, 2019).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for invoking her judicial position during a telephone conversation with a man she believed was the estranged husband of a woman she believed was cohabitating with her estranged husband; the Commission also ordered that she receive 2 hours of instruction with a mentor.  Public Admonition of Rocha and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct August 26, 2019).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a former judge for telling a woman that she should wait to file her complaint until he had an opportunity to discuss the case with the defendant, whom he knew, and failing to timely issue a citation.  Public Admonition of Crouch (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct August 8, 2019).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished 11 judges or former judges from the same district court for instructing hearing officers not to issue personal recognizance bonds in any cases and to strictly follow a bail schedule, contrary to the authority provided to the hearing officers by statute; the judges reportedly will request review.  Public Admonition of Barr (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct August 26, 2019); Public Admonition of Ritchie (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct August 26, 2019); Public Admonition of McSpadden (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct August 26, 2019); Public Admonition of Brown (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct August 26, 2019); Public Admonition of Cabaniss (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct August 26, 2019); Public Admonition of Collins (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct August 26, 2019); Public Admonition of Ellis (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct August 26, 2019); Public Admonition of Evans (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct August 26, 2019); Public Admonition of Jones (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct August 26, 2019); Public Admonition of Powell (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct August 26, 2019); Public Admonition of Wallace (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct August 26, 2019).
  • Pursuant to a stipulation, the Vermont Judicial Conduct Board publicly reprimanded a judge for directly asking attorneys, including attorneys who appeared before him, to be part of his campaign committee; the judge also agreed to participate in a mentoring program.  In re Glennon, Public reprimand with order (Vermont Judicial Conduct Board August 28, 2019).