Recent judicial discipline cases

  • The California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished a court commissioner for tolerating offensive and inappropriate comments by court staff and making profane and derogatory comments about a court interpreter. Public Admonishment of Kliszewski (California Commission on Judicial Performance October 4, 2017).
  • Based on a stipulation and consent, the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline publicly reprimanded a judge for giving an interview about a pending case on which he had served as prosecutor. In the Matter of Kephart, Stipulation and order of consent to public reprimand (Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline August 31, 2017).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for comments she made criticizing the district attorney during 4 habeas corpus hearings on the same date. Public Reprimand of Schildknecht (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct August 22, 2017).
  • Based on a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct censured a judge for 8 instances of unjustified decisional delay in a variety of cases over 3 years. In re Roberts, Stipulation, agreement, and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 26, 2017).
  • A hearing panel of the Ontario Judicial Council suspended a judge for 30 days without pay and reprimanded him for wearing a “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN” baseball cap in the courtroom the day after the U.S. presidential election. In the Matter of 81 Complaints Respecting Zabel, Reasons for decision (Ontario Judicial Council September 11, 2017).

 

Recent cases

  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for indicating that a defendant could be released to a behavioral health treatment provider after conducting an ex parte hearing in which the defendant’s father argued for the release. Hudson, Amended order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct August 22, 2017).
  • The California Commission on Judicial Performance severely censured a judge for (1) during his 2012 campaign, making misrepresentations on his campaign web-site and candidate disclosure form, failing to resign from 3 political action committees, publicly opposing President Barack Obama’s re-election, omitting expenses from his campaign disclosure form, and using a personal bank account and credit card for campaign expenses; (2) after being sworn in as a judge, remaining as counsel of record in a federal action for approximately 6 weeks and issuing 4 checks from his law office account; (3) improper courtroom decorum, poor demeanor, bias, and/or a lack of impartiality in the courtroom, including drawing attention to an attorney’s ethnicity and accent and questioning her citizenship, using nicknames to address attorneys, commenting on the physical appearance of attorneys, disclosing intimate personal facts, using crude language, and speaking Spanish; (4) improperly responding to a “blanket” challenge from the city attorney’s office by telling deputy public defenders and public defender interns to “watch out;” (5) telling an African-American court employee who had participated in a Halloween costume contest that she should not say she “didn’t win due to racism” or words to that effect; (6) stating during a proceeding, “I had a Filipino teacher who always used to ask for a shit of paper;” (7) improperly soliciting the legal opinion of attorneys in cases in which they did not represent a party; (8) giving a small claims plaintiff the choice of dismissing his case and filing it as a civil case or having the judge decide based on evidence that the judge said was insufficient; and (9) repeatedly interjecting his personal experience during a small claims case. Inquiry Concerning Kreep, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance August 7, 2017).
  • Accepting the recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Performance, the Mississippi Supreme Court suspended a judge for 120 days without pay, fined him $3,000, and publicly reprimanded him for ordering a man to serve 6 months in a work center for a conviction he had already appealed to a higher court and for which he had already had satisfied his sentence. Commission on Judicial Performance v. Sheffield (Mississippi Supreme Court August 17, 2017).
  • The Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline suspended a non-lawyer judge without pay for 1 year for (1) sealing her then son-in-law’s criminal records relating to his arrest for domestic battery of her daughter; (2) improperly ordering staff to conduct an illegal criminal records search of her friend’s boyfriend; (3) sentencing an unrepresented individual to 8 months in jail in violation of due process; (4) referring to men as “sperm donors;” (5) improperly running a juvenile diversion program; and (6) issuing orders regarding titles for abandoned vehicles in small claims cases. In the Matter of Haviland, Findings of fact, conclusions of law, and imposition of discipline (Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline August 29, 2017).
  • With the judge’s consent and conditioned on his agreement that the letter be public, the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board issued a letter of counsel to a judge for being involved in a “support relationship” with the district attorney during his second divorce without disclosing the relationship when she and attorneys from her office appeared in his court. Letter to Grine (Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board August 20, 2017).
  • Denying in part and granting in part the judge’s petition for review of a decision of the 6th Circuit Judicial Council, the Judicial Conduct and Disability Committee of the U.S. Judicial Conference publicly reprimanded a judge for ordering a magistrate to show cause why he had not met the deadline for filing a report and recommendation in a social security case and for refusing to cooperate with the special investigating committee’s request that he undergo a mental health examination. In re Adams, Memorandum of Decision (U.S. Judicial Conference Judicial Conduct and Disability Committee of August 14, 2017).

 

 

Recent cases

  • With the judge’s consent, in lieu of filing formal disciplinary proceedings, the Indiana Judicial Qualifications Commission admonished a judge for participating in an ex parte hearing at which the clerk of court was banned from the courthouse without providing the clerk with notice of the purpose of the hearing or the opportunity to obtain counsel. Public Admonition of Barry (Indiana Judicial Qualifications Commission June 28, 2017).
  • The Maine Supreme Judicial Court ordered that a former probate judge forfeit $5,000 and be suspended from the practice of law in Maine for 2 years for (1) directing that 7 attorneys not be included on the appointments list; (2) removing an attorney from cases to which she had previously been appointed; (3) ordering the destruction of a lawfully obtained public document; (4) issuing orders urging litigants before him to lobby for increased court time; and (5) personally soliciting campaign contributions. In the Matter of Nadeu (Maine Supreme Judicial Court June 20, 2017).
  • Based on a settlement agreement and stipulated findings of fact and conclusions of law, the Michigan Supreme Court suspended a judge for 6 months without pay and publicly censured him for sexually harassing his judicial secretary. In re Iddings (Michigan Supreme Court July 6, 2017).
  • Accepting an agreed statement of facts and recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct admonished a judge for (1) invoking her judicial title and position in a letter she wrote on behalf of her childhood babysitter to be filed in connection with a motion to vacate her conviction and (2) writing 2 affirmations on behalf of her son to be filed in the appellate division in connection with his criminal case. In the Matter of Ramirez, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct May 4, 2017).
  • Based on the report of a referee following a hearing, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct censured a non-lawyer judge for seeking special consideration from court officials in connection with an acquaintance’s traffic ticket. In the Matter of Aluzzi, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct June 26, 2017).

 

 

Recent cases

  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for multiple errors in an eviction proceeding. Carrillo, Order (February 6, 2017).
  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for, while a candidate, (1) obtaining and registering the domain name he knew his opponent intended to use for his campaign web-site and redirecting internet traffic from that web-site to his campaign web-site and (2) having a small image on his Facebook page with a logo that stated, “Andrew Hettinger Justice of the Peace” without “elect” prior to his name or “for” between his name and the position. Hettinger, Amended order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct May 31, 2017).
  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a pro tem judge for promoting the use of a company in which she has an ownership interest while presiding over settlement discussions in a family law case and including use of that company’s service as a term in the settlement agreement.  Sheldon, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct May 17, 2017).
  • The California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished a judge for (1) posting a statement about a judicial candidate on Facebook with knowing or reckless disregard for the truth and (2) being Facebook friends with attorneys who were appearing regularly before him. In the Matter Concerning Ferguson, Public admonishment (California Commission on Judicial Performance May 31, 2017).
  • Approving the recommendation of the hearing panel of the Judicial Qualifications Commission, the Florida Supreme Court suspended a judge for 90 days without pay and publicly reprimanded her for knowingly misrepresenting a newspaper endorsement for her 1994 legislative re-election campaign to make it appear the endorsement was for her 2014 judicial campaign. Inquiry Concerning Shepard (Florida Supreme Court May 4, 2017).
  • Based on stipulations, the New Hampshire Judicial Conduct Committee publicly reprimanded a judge for revising a negotiated plea agreement sua sponte and refusing to allow the state to strike amendments to the charges; the Committee dismissed complaints about the judge’s handling of 4 other plea agreements with a caution and recommendation for prudent future conduct. In the Matter of DeVries (New Hampshire Judicial Conduct Committee April 7, 2017).
  • The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct removed a non-lawyer judge for (1) multiple efforts to influence the disposition of a traffic ticket received by his daughter and being discourteous to the prosecutor in the case and (2) in connection with the appeal of his order of restitution in a case, sending 8 letter to the county court that contained factual and legal arguments and biased, discourteous statements about the defendant and his attorney. In the Matter of Ayres, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct May 4, 2017), review requested.
  • Adopting the findings and conclusions of the Judicial Standards Commission based on stipulations and accepting its recommendation based on the judge’s agreement, the North Carolina Supreme Court publicly censured a judge for driving while substantially impaired and belligerent, offensive, and denigrating behavior towards law enforcement and emergency personnel. In re LaBarre (North Carolina Supreme Court May 5, 2017).
  • Adopting the recommendation of the Board of Professional Conduct based on stipulations, the Ohio Supreme Court suspended a former judge from the practice of law for 2 years, with the second year stayed on the condition that he commit no further misconduct, for soliciting prostitution and falsifying a court record. Ohio State Bar Association v. Jacob (Ohio Supreme Court May 10, 2017).
  • Accepting an agreement for discipline by consent, the South Carolina Supreme Court suspended for 45 days without pay a judge who had a physical altercation with another attendee following a meeting of a cotillion club. In the Matter of Johnson (South Carolina Supreme Court May 31, 2017).
  • Affirming the determination of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, the Special Court of Review Appointed by the Texas Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for engaging in an improper sexual relationship with his chief clerk. In re Casey (Special Court of Review Appointed by the Texas Supreme Court May 9, 2017).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for a Facebook post that stated, “Time for a tree and a rope . . .” in response to the arrest of an African-American man for the killing of a police officer. Amended Public Reprimand and Order of Additional Education of Oakley (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct May 8, 2017).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned a judge for refusing to allow a member of the public to inspect and copy judicial case files and physically escorting the man out of his office. Public Warning of Alford and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct March 28, 2017).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for failing to provide the plaintiff in a small claims case with adequate written notice of his trial date, proceeding to trial without requiring the defendant to file a written answer to the lawsuit, communicating with the defendant regarding the merits of the case, failing to treat the plaintiff with patience, dignity, and courtesy, presenting a settlement offer in a way that give the plaintiff the impression the defendant was in a position to influence the judge and used the prestige of his office to advance the defendant’s interest, and using racially insensitive language while in the courthouse. Public Reprimand of DeLaPaz and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct March 17, 2017).
  • Adopting the decision of the Judicial Conduct Board, the Vermont Supreme Court ordered that a judge be immediately and permanently suspended from judicial office, prohibited him from holding judicial office in the state, and publicly reprimanded him for depositing payments on loans into his personal bank account even though the loans had been made with funds from his uncle’s wife and negotiating the forgiveness of the loans; making a facially implausible claim against her estate; failing to protect the assets of the estate; and making false statements during a probate court hearing. In re Kane (Vermont Supreme Court May 24,  2017).
  • Based on a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge who solicited endorsements from court employees in support of his campaign. In re Federspiel, Stipulation, Agreement, and Order of Reprimand (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct May 12, 2017).

Recent cases

  • A special Alabama Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Court of the Judiciary suspending the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court from office without pay for the remainder of his term for entering an administrative order that directed all probate judges to follow the state’s marriage laws in disregard of a federal court injunction and for failing to disqualify himself from the state case on same-sex marriage after taking a position on the issue in the administrative order. Moore v Judicial Inquiry Commission (Alabama Supreme Court April 19, 2017).
  • The California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished a judge for violations of the financial reporting laws during her campaign for office. In the Matter of Flanagan, Public admonishment (California Commission on Judicial Performance April 11, 2017).
  • Agreeing with a statement of circumstances and conditional agreement for discipline, the Indiana Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a non-lawyer judge who had been convicted of battery against a public safety official for shoving the police chief during a meeting and ordered that he be eligible for future judicial service and that he pay the costs of the proceeding; the reprimand was conditioned on the judge tendering his resignation effective April 28, 2017. In the Matter of Phillips (Indiana Supreme court April 28, 2017).
  • Agreeing with the findings of a hearing panel of the Commission on Judicial Qualifications, the Kansas Supreme Court found that a former judge made dishonest statements under oath in a prior discipline proceeding; however, it did not impose a sanction because the judge had resigned, and suspension or removal were, therefore, unavailable. In the Matter of Henderson (Kansas Supreme Court April 7, 2017).
  • Based on the judge’s agreement, the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission publicly reprimanded a judge for, as a joke, holding an attorney in contempt for adding expungement cases to her docket contrary to a “no add-on” order for the day. In re Leibson, Agreed order of public reprimand (Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission April 13, 2017).
  • Adopting the recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Performance, based on a stipulation of agreed facts and proposed recommendation, the Mississippi Supreme Court suspended a judge from office for 30 days without pay, fined him $1,100, and publicly reprimanded him for threatening to use a weapon on a defendant, interrogating the same defendant concerning his drug use, which had no bearing on the charge before the court, and interrogating, demeaning, and intimidating the defendant’s mother about the defendant’s drug use and her parenting skills. Commission on Judicial Performance v. Vess (Mississippi Supreme Court April 20, 2017).
  • Based on the findings of fact, conclusions of law, and recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Performance, the Mississippi Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge and fined him $3,000 for advising a plaintiff to orally move to amend her complaint and issuing a default judgment that ordered an immediate eviction even though the original complaint had not asked for it, and that awarded $3,000 more than the original complaint had demanded. Commission on Judicial Performance v. Roberts (Mississippi Supreme Court April 20, 2017).

 

Recent cases

  • Based on an agreement, the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission suspended a judge without pay for 30 days for (1) granting permanent sole custody of a child to a petitioner without requiring the petitioner to provide evidence or giving the respondent an opportunity to obtain counsel, cross-examine witnesses, or introduce evidence and (2) ordering 2 minor children to be immediately placed in foster care without conducting a formal hearing, taking sworn testimony, or affording the parents basic due process. In re Stein, Agreed order of suspension (Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission March 21, 2017).  In September 2016, based on an agreement, the Commission had suspended the same judge for 7 days without pay for granting an ex parte motion to grant immediate custody to a child’s father.
  • Based on the findings of a referee following a hearing, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct censured a non-lawyer judge for (1) dismissing or reducing charges without notice to or the consent of the prosecution; (2) failing to provide a defendant the opportunity to be heard regarding bail; (3) increasing bail in an improper manner; (4) imposing conditions of release on a defendant that were without basis in law; (5) failing to advise a defendant of the right to counsel, asking incriminatory questions, and imposing improper conditions for permitting the defendant to negotiate a plea; and (6) making improper comments about a defendant’s physical appearance. In the Matter of Clark, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct March 13, 2017).
  • Accepting an agreed statement of facts and joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct censured a judge for making prohibited public comments in 3 media interviews about a pending murder case and threatening to have a prosecutor handcuffed and jailed during a post-trial proceeding in the same case. In the Matter of Piampiano, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct March 13, 2017).
  • The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct censured a non-lawyer judge for signing his name and judicial title beneath a defendant’s signature on a letter requesting another court to change the defendant’s plea from not guilty to guilty regarding a traffic infraction. In the Matter of Sullivan, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct March 13, 2017).
  • Accepting a stipulation based on the judge’s agreement to resign and never seek or accept judicial office, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct discontinued a proceeding against a non-lawyer judge. In the Matter of Purtell, Decision and order (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct March 15, 2017).  The Commission had served a formal written complaint on the judge alleging that he had failed to follow the law in 3 arraignments, including failing to adequately advise the defendants of their constitutional rights and conditioning the duration of defendants’ incarceration on payment of fines and surcharges and made undignified and/or discourteous comments from the bench about women.  The Commission had subsequently apprised him that it was also investigating a complaint regarding his handling of another arraignment.
  • The North Dakota Supreme Court suspended a judge for 3 months without pay for failing to decide a divorce case for more than a year after the trial, failing to make a decision on an ex parte motion to compel the return of a child, and failing to respond to letters from the presiding judge expressing concern about the timeliness of decisions; the Court also assessed the judge $10,118.67 in costs and ordered the judge to attend the course on decision making at the National Judicial College. In the Matter of Hagar (North Dakota Supreme Court March 30, 2017).  The Court had censured the same judge in 2012 for a pattern of delay involving 12 cases and had suspended him for 1 month without pay in 2014 for failing to issue a decision in a divorce case until nearly 10 months after the trial.
  • In a de novo review, the Wyoming Supreme Court censured a judge for her refusal to perform same-sex marriages and ordered that she either perform no marriage ceremonies or that she perform marriage ceremonies regardless of the couple’s sexual orientation. Inquiry Concerning Neely (Wyoming Supreme Court March 7, 2017).

Recent cases

  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for gathering signatures for 5 nominating petitions for the constable of her judicial precinct. Felix, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct February 6, 2017).
  • The Florida Supreme Court suspended a judge for 6 months without pay and publicly reprimanded him for (1) while a candidate, (a) falsely stating in a televised debate that he had never been accused of a conflict of interest and failing to correct that statement during the debate or afterwards and (b) stating at a judicial forum that he was a registered Republican and that his former affiliation with the Democratic Party was an error; and (2) while an attorney, (a) failing to advise opposing counsel that he was representing the judge presiding in their case in an unrelated case, (b) failing to advise 3 clients of the risks and advantages of common representation and to withdraw when conflicts became apparent, and (c) filing a bankruptcy petition and taking other actions on behalf of a client that were detrimental to other clients and incorrectly stating the status of his representation on filings in the bankruptcy court. Inquiry Concerning Decker (Florida Supreme Court March 2, 2017).
  • Agreeing with a statement of circumstances and conditional agreement for discipline, the Indiana Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a senior judge for his arrest and conviction for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. In the Matter of Page (Indiana Supreme Court February 20, 2017).
  • Based on an agreement, the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission publicly reprimanded a former judge for engaging in a sexual relationship with a woman who was indicted in a felony criminal case over which he was presiding and having ex parte communications with her about her case. In re Dortch, Public reprimand (Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission February 24, 2017).
  • The Louisiana Supreme Court ordered a judge to reimburse the district court $10,002.58 in out-of-pocket expenses paid to him under an unauthorized supplemental benefits program. In Derbigny (Louisiana Supreme Court January 20, 2017).
  • The Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline publicly reprimanded a judge and fined her $1,000 for signing an ex parte order as part of a Canadian divorce for an attorney she knew. In the Matter of Andress-Tobiasson, Findings of fact, conclusions of law, and imposition of discipline (Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline February 23, 2017).
  • Based on his consent and agreement not to serve in a judicial position, the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline censured a former judge for holding 3 defendants in contempt of court without entering the necessary written order and ordering a public defender handcuffed and holding her in contempt. In the Matter of Hafen, Stipulation and order of consent (Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline February 27, 2017).
  • Based on the judge’s consent, the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline publicly reprimanded a judge for falsely claiming 5 endorsements in a campaign ad. In the Matter of Smith, Stipulation and order of consent (Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline February 27, 2017).
  • The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals suspended a judge for 2 years without pay and ordered him to pay a $15,000 fine for a campaign flyer that falsely portrayed his opponent, the incumbent judge, partying at the White House with President Obama. In the Matter of Callaghan (West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals February 9, 2017).