On-line complaints

Although a form is not required to file a complaint against a judge in most states, using a form increases the chances a judicial conduct commission will get the information it needs to evaluate whether an investigation is justified.  Most judicial conduct commissions have complaint forms on their web-sites, many the fillable PDF type, that can be mailed, faxed, or, in some states, e-mailed to the commission.

n addition, 8 judicial conduct commissions now allow complaints to be filed on-line.  Those 8, linked to the on-line forms, are:

In response to a recent inquiry, the commissions recommended the on-line process, noting no confidentiality or security breaches or any more problems than with written complaints.  One commission stated that about half of the complaints it receives now come through its on-line portal, and another said that 3/4 of the complaints on its next agenda had been filed electronically.  Several reported an increase in the number of complaints since they added the on-line option but concluded that increase was outweighed by the benefits, such as more legible complaints, reduced costs for processing, and more comprehensive information.  One commission noted that, “Members of the public seem to appreciate the ease of use and accessibility of the online form,” and another stated, “it is convenient for complainants and is not an overall problem.  It’s the way of the future and nice to deal with less paper.”

The Center for Judicial Ethics has links to the web-sites of all judicial conduct commissions.

Throwback Thursday

10 years ago this month:

  • Pursuant to the judge’s agreement, the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission publicly admonished a judge for giving the appearance of summarily banishing a defendant from the county. Letter to Wise (Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission May 5, 2008).
  • Based on the judge’s agreement, the Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications publicly admonished a judge who had pled guilty to public intoxication after being arrested when a police officer observed him outside his car near the interstate. Public Admonition of Currie (Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications May 27, 2008).
  • Based on the recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Disabilities, the Maryland Court of Appeals suspended a judge for 30 days without pay for a pattern of inappropriate demeanor and comments. In re Lamdin, 948 A.2d 54 (Maryland May 2008).
  • Based on an agreed statement of facts and joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a judge for holding litigants in 3 cases in summary contempt without complying with statutory requirements. In the Matter or Griffin, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct May 16, 2008).
  • The North Carolina Judicial Standards Commission publicly reprimanded a judge who had entered an Alford plea to impaired driving. In re Adkins, Public Reprimand (North Carolina Judicial Standards Commission May 9, 2008).
  • Based on a consent-to-discipline agreement, the Ohio Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for allowing 6 civil cases to languish in his court for an inordinate amount of time. Disciplinary Counsel v. Sargeant, 889 N.E.2d 96 (Ohio 2008).
  • Adopting the recommendations of the hearing panel of the Commission on Judicial Conduct, the South Carolina Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a former magistrate for (1) proposing that a court employee obtain incriminating evidence against another magistrate by videotaping herself engaged in sexual relations with the magistrate and (2) using a racial epithet in a conversation with another court employee to refer to men that a court clerk was dating; the Court also ordered that the former judge be prohibited from seeking or accepting any judicial position in the state without its express permission. In the Matter of Hutchins, 661 S.E.2d 343 (South Carolina 2008).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned a judge for a comment that could easily be misinterpreted as racist and an unsolicited, coercive, and intimidating discussion of the value of a case to encourage settlement that injected race and politics; the Commission also ordered the judge to complete an 8-hour course covering racial sensitivity and diversity. Public Warning of Keis and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct May 14, 2008).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned a judge for touching an attorney’s buttocks at a Christmas party; the Commission also ordered him to complete an 8-hour course covering gender sensitivity and sexual harassment. Public Warning of Miner and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct May 14, 2008).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for a 20-year practice of refusing to accept eviction filings from landlords for part of December. Public Admonition of Geick (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct May 5, 2008).
  • Based on a stipulation and joint recommendation, the Wisconsin Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a supreme court justice for presiding, when she was a circuit judge, over 11 cases in which a bank was a party while her husband was a paid director of the bank, without disclosing the relationship or obtaining a waiver of her disqualification. In the Matter of Ziegler, 750 N.W.2d 710 (Wisconsin 2008).

New judges’ failure to disqualify

In 2 recent cases, 2 new judges were disciplined for failing to disqualify from cases related to their pre-bench representation and making comments while presiding in those cases that created the appearance of impartiality.

In 1 case, the judge had become a judge on January 1, 2015.  On January 21, 2015, James Thomas was brought into her courtroom to be arraigned on a petit larceny charge.  Thomas was at the time on parole supervision for a felony on which the judge had represented him approximately 3 years earlier.

When Thomas entered the judge’s courtroom, he smiled and waved at the judge, who was on the bench.  The judge laughed and disclosed to counsel that Thomas was a former client, adding, “And I like him.”  She then said, “Well, I mean, I can … arraign him … but I’m going to transfer it.”  The judge asked her court clerk, “Can it not go to Johnson, please?”, referring to another judge who would usually get a transferred case.  At the hearing, the judge testified that, if Judge Johnson, who was not very “nice to anyone,” got his case, Thomas would get harsher treatment and a less favorable result.

She then commented from the bench:  “[W]hen … you said the name I’m like, ‘Aw, come on”‘; “He freaking just got out.  I represented him … He just, just got out”; and “Aww, I’m so sad about this.”

The judge read Thomas the charge and assigned him counsel, who entered a plea of not guilty.  The judge told Thomas that it was not appropriate for her to preside over his case.  When he asked why, she replied, “I would love to preside over your case, but I don’t … want any conflicts.”  The judge set a “courtesy” bail at $50, as requested by Thomas’ attorney.  In setting bail, the judge stated that because he was being held, “it really doesn’t matter,” but that because he was being held on bail concurrent to the parole hold, he would be “getting time on these charges.”  When the next case was called, the judge commented, “I totally love him.  I’m so sad that he’s in jail right now.”

The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct found that the judge’s impartiality could reasonably be questioned, not only because of the prior attorney-client relationship, but because of her evident bias.  The Commission explained:

Even if respondent mistakenly believed that conducting the arraignment was permissible as long as she subsequently transferred the case, her handling of the proceeding, including her repeated expressions of fondness for her former client and her misuse of her judicial position to benefit him, created an unmistakable appearance of favoritism.  Her undisguised attempt to benefit the defendant by asking her clerk not to transfer the case to a particular judge whom respondent viewed as harsh was particularly improper.  The defendant, who was being held on a parole violation arising out of the matter in which respondent had represented him, also benefited from her decision to set a $50 “courtesy” bail, which would give him credit for jail time on the current charge.

The Commission emphasized that, “when a conflict with a party requires disqualification, a judge must recuse at the outset of the case and must not handle an arraignment since arraignments are a significant stage in the criminal proceeding requiring the exercise of discretion . . . .”

The Commission removed the judge for arraigning Thomas; making discourteous, undignified, or otherwise inappropriate comments while presiding over 3 other criminal matters; operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol; asserting her judicial position in attempting to avoid the consequences of her arrest; and repeatedly violating the terms of her conditional discharge.  In the Matter of Astacio, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct April 23, 2018).

* * *
In the second case, the judge had been sworn into office in January 9, 2017.  On February 22, 2017, she accepted a defendant’s guilty plea, and, on March 8, she sentenced the defendant — even though she had appeared in the same case representing the same defendant at the preliminary hearing on November 8, 2016, while serving as the “attorney of the day.”

During the sentencing hearing, after disclosing that she had represented the defendant at the first hearing, the judge asked whether “either party” had “any problem” with her imposing sentence.  There was no objection.

Before imposing sentence, the judge said, “Well, I actually – I remember [this defendant], and I remember thinking he was different than most of the people that I dealt with when I was defense attorney.  I remember telling the judge that I felt like it was outside of his character for him to do something like this.  In my dealings with him he was a very respectful young man.”  The judge then sentenced the defendant in accordance with the agreed recommendation of the parties.

Based on a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished the judge.  In re O’Rourke, Stipulation, agreement, and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct March 9, 2018).

In the disciplinary proceedings, the judge stipulated that her comments attesting to the defendant’s character may have reasonably given the impression that she was not impartial even though she followed the agreed recommendation of the parties.

Prior to the disciplinary proceedings, the judge had “mistakenly believed that disclosing her past representation and recusing herself” if requested was sufficient to cure the conflict.  She had done some research on the issue and had spoken to other, more senior, judges, including inquiring informally following a presentation on judicial ethics.”  She had concluded that disclosure was the appropriate remedy based on the limited nature of her prior representation and the potential disruption to the court if she were unable to preside over criminal cases because she had represented virtually every person charged with a crime in the county at their preliminary appearance in 2016.  The Commission noted that others in the local legal community it had contacted in the investigation also had the mistaken belief that the disclosure of prior representation was sufficient.  Noting the “apparent confusion regarding application of this rule,” the Commission clarified that a judge cannot preside over a case in which the judge previously acted as an attorney and that that disqualification cannot be waived.

The code of judicial conduct requires a judge to disqualify when the judge “served as a lawyer in the matter in controversy.”  This Washington code does not allow this disqualification to be waived unlike the model code of judicial conduct and the codes in many other states, but even under those codes, waiver is permitted only if the parties agree, “without participation by the judge or court personnel,” and the agreement is incorporated into the record.

Including but not limited to sexual harassment

Under the federal Civil Rights Act, sexual harassment is defined as:

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature . . . when (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment, (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual, or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.

However, “[a]lthough undoubtedly all forms of behavior that cross the legal threshold of sexual harassment would constitute judicial misconduct,” a judge’s “offensive interpersonal behavior” does not have to meet the definition of sexual harassment under federal or state law to violate the code of judicial conduct and warrant judicial discipline.  In the Matter of Seaman 627 A.2d 106 (New Jersey 1993).  Accord In re Barr, 13 S.W.3d 525 (Texas Review Tribunal 1998).

For example, the North Dakota Supreme Court rejected a judge’s argument that “concepts of sexual harassment under federal and state laws should govern any assessment of the evidence” in a judicial discipline case.  In the Matter of Corwin, 843 N.W.2d 830 (North Dakota 2014).  Noting “judicial disciplinary proceedings ‘are neither civil nor criminal,’” the Court stated that the code “does not require the establishment of sexual harassment under federal or state law.”  The Court suspended the judge from office for 1 month without pay for conduct toward his court reporter that she reasonably perceived as sexual harassment.

In In re Miera, 426 N.W.2d 850 (Minnesota 1988), the judge had argued that he should not be sanctioned because there had been no findings he had interfered with his court reporter’s employment or created a hostile work environment as required for a claim of sexual harassment under a state statute.  However, the Minnesota Supreme Court stated that the issue was not the judge’s “civil liability for damages but his ethical responsibilities as a judge.”  The Court concluded that the judge’s unsolicited sexual advances toward his court reporter had demonstrated a serious abuse of the power and suspended the judge for 1 year without pay for this and other misconduct.

Similarly, in Commission on  Judicial Performance v. Spencer, 725 So. 2d 171 (Mississippi 1998), the judge had argued that his treatment of the court clerk, 2 deputy clerks, and another judge did not constitute sexual harassment because he was not their supervisor and he had not threatened their jobs or engaged in other reprisals.  However, the Court held that the issue was not whether the judge’s offensive comments met the legal definition of sexual harassment but whether the comments constituted willful misconduct in office and conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice that brings the judicial office into disrepute.  The Court removed the judge for this and other misconduct.

Although prior to 1990 the code of judicial conduct did not expressly refer to bias or harassment, sexual harassment obviously fell within other provisions:  however else it may be characterized, conduct such as inappropriate comments and touching demonstrates a failure to be “patient, dignified, and courteous,” to promote “public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary,” and to “observe high standards of conduct.”

In 1990, a prohibition on manifesting bias was added to the American Bar Association Model Code of Judicial Conduct, and a comment to the rule stated that “a judge must refrain from speech, gestures or other conduct that could reasonably be perceived as sexual harassment . . . .”  Rule 2.3(B) of the 2007 model code states that “[a] judge shall not, in the performance of judicial duties, by words or conduct manifest bias or prejudice, or engage in harassment,” including but not limited to harassment based on sex or gender.  Comment 4 to that rule explains that “[s]exual harassment includes but is not limited to sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that is unwelcome.”

Throwback Thursday

5 year ago this month:

  • Based on a recommendation and stipulated resolution, the Arizona Supreme Court publicly censured a judge for his failure to be patient, dignified, and courteous in 2 settlement conferences. Inquiry Concerning Cornelio, Order (Arizona Supreme Court April 24, 2013).
  • Accepting a settlement agreement, the Indiana Supreme Court permanently banned a senior judge from judicial service and suspended her from the practice of law for 1 year for an improper romantic relationship with a defendant while serving as his public defender; all but 45 days of the suspension was stayed subject to 2 years’ probation. In the Matter of Traylor-Wolff, Order (Indiana Supreme Court April 9, 2013).
  • Based on a stipulation and the judge’s consent, the New Hampshire Judicial Conduct Committee publicly reprimanded a judge for presiding over 2 arraignments in cases in which the victim was his brother-in-law without disclosing the relationship. Lyons, Reprimand (New Hampshire Judicial Conduct Committee April 16, 2013).
  • Accepting the determination of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, the New York Court of Appeals removed a former judge for sexual contact with a 5-year-old girl in 1972. In the Matter of Hedges, 988 N.E.2d 509 (New York 2013).
  • Accepting an agreement for discipline by consent, the South Carolina Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a former judge for his conduct in 5 cases. In the Matter of Bryngelson, 742 S.E.2d 392 (South Carolina 2013).
  • Pursuant to an agreement, the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct publicly censured a judge for his intemperate, argumentative, and disruptive conduct during a deposition, which was contrary to a 2009 deferred discipline agreement in which he had agreed to cease and desist from injudicious treatment directed at a particular law firm.  Wilson (Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct April 11, 2013).
  • Pursuant to an agreement, the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for granting a petition to modify a permanent parenting plan following an ex parte hearing. Wilson (Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct April 5, 2013).
  • Pursuant to an agreement, the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for (1) commenting that he believed an attorney must be having a sexual relationship with another attorney, which the other attorneys heard; and (2) approaching the spouse of a court employee who had taken a leave of absence and whom the judge perceived had personal issues with him, and, in the presence of others who worked with the spouse, using inappropriate language to abrasively inquire about the court employee’s potential problem. McKenzie (Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct April 11, 2013).

 

Notice and opportunity: draft orders

The Iowa Supreme Court recently issued a supervisory order stating that “no judge or magistrate shall communicate with an attorney about preparing a proposed order or decree without including all other attorneys or self-represented litigants in the case in the communication.”  The order noted that it “does not change permitted practices, but ensures that the rules and principles regarding ex parte communications are followed.”

The Court explained:

Ex parte judicial communications include a judge’s request to an attorney to prepare a proposed decree or ruling without including all opposing counsel or parties in the communication.  The practice of attorneys, as officers of the court, providing proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law can greatly assist judges in the preparation of orders, particularly in complex or technical cases.  Yet, knowledge of and notice to all parties or attorneys is the touchstone that permits that practice to occur. . . .   The overarching prohibition against ex parte communications must be carefully followed.

The Court emphasized that “just a single violation of this admonition by one judge in one case threatens not only the fair resolution of that case but the reputation of the bench, bar and entire system of justice.  All judges are obligated to conduct their work in a way that preserves this reputation.”

The order followed a report in the Des Moines Register that a now-retired judge had admitted that “a couple hundred” of his rulings were written by attorneys on the winning side without the knowledge of opposing counsel.  He made that admission during a deposition in one of the cases in which he had apparently followed that practice.

In the 1990 version of the American Bar Association’s Model Code of Judicial Conduct, a comment stated that “[a] judge may request a party to submit proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law, so long as the other parties are apprised of the request and are given an opportunity to respond to the proposed findings and conclusions.”  In the 2007 code revisions (which Iowa and many other states have adopted), the ABA deleted that comment because, according to the reporters’ notes, “the permissibility of the practice was so free from doubt as to render the Comment unnecessary.”  However, by deleting the comment, the revision omitted the conditions that validate the practice and need to be emphasized:  providing all parties with notice and an opportunity to respond.

The Indiana Judicial Qualifications Commission issued an advisory opinion after receiving a complaint about a judge who, in a contested support hearing, telephoned the attorney whose client had prevailed, outlined his decision, instructed him to prepare an order reflecting that decision, and then signed the order drafted by the attorney after making some minor changes.  Indiana Advisory Opinion 1-1998.   The attorney for the other party was unaware of the judge’s decision and his instruction to opposing counsel until after the order was signed.

The Commission explained that the judge’s conduct had given one party’s lawyer an advantage.

Even assuming the judge’s decision was firm, and the conversation involved only its announcement and instructions to prepare an order, the party whose lawyer was not asked to participate justifiably would question the fairness of the conduct and might question whether the conversation, from which his or her attorney was excluded, went beyond a simple announcement and might have involved further argument or comment on the merits.  Then, subsequent to the ex parte conversation, for a period of time, one party only was privy to the outcome.  The potential for abuse is great and, even where the informed party has no occasion or reason to exploit that information, the negative impact on the other party’s perception of the judge’s neutrality and impartiality is rightfully compromised.

The Commission concluded:

A judge must never announce his or her decisions to one party, to the exclusion of others, except in extraordinary circumstances.  A judge who is not inclined to ask for proposed orders from all parties prior to rendering the decision, and who, instead, prefers to instruct only the prevailing party to prepare a proposed order conforming with the judge’s decision, must give that instruction under circumstances in which both parties are made aware of the decision at the same time.

See also South Carolina Advisory Opinion 1-1994 (after a judge has ruled in open court and directed one attorney to prepare an order in accordance with instructions, a copy of the proposed order must be sent to opposing counsel at the same time and by the same means as to the judge, and the judge may not discuss the order with the drafting attorney ex parte except for minor, non-substantive corrections).

In Disciplinary Counsel v. Stuard, 901 N.E.2d 788 (Ohio 2009), the Ohio Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for entering a sentencing order drafted by an assistant prosecutor following ex parte communications; the Court also publicly reprimanded the assistant prosecutor.

The judge had presided over a capital murder trial in which a jury found the defendant guilty of 2 counts of aggravated murder, among other crimes, and recommended a sentence of death.  Between the penalty-phase hearing and the sentencing hearing, the judge engaged in 4 ex parte communications with Kenneth Becker, one of the prosecutors.

In the first communication, the judge asked Becker to prepare an opinion sentencing the defendant to death and gave him 2 pages of notes on the aggravating and mitigating factors.  The second ex parte communication occurred the next day when the judge found on his desk a 17-page draft of a sentencing opinion.  In a third ex parte communication later that day, the judge asked Becker to make several corrections.  Becker made the corrections and also incorporated  editorial suggestions from another prosecutor in the case.  In the fourth communication, the judge received the corrected version of what became his opinion.

During the sentencing hearing, as the judge read his opinion from the bench, defense counsel, who did not have a copy of the sentencing order, noticed that one of the prosecutors seemed to be silently “reading along” with the judge, turning pages of a document in unison.  In a sidebar discussion, the judge acknowledged that he had given his notes to Becker and instructed him to draft the sentencing order.

On appeal, the Ohio Supreme Court held that the judge committed prejudicial error by delegating responsibility for the content and analysis of his sentencing opinion to prosecutor; the Court  vacated the death sentence, and remanded the case with instructions for the judge to personally review and evaluate the appropriateness of the death penalty.

Recent cases

  • Based on his resignation and agreement to never hold judicial office again, the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission closed its investigation of allegations that a judge had issued warrants and made other rulings contrary to clearly established law, including issuing arrest warrants for criminal defamation in violation of a statute held unconstitutional in 1982 and formally repealed. In re Todd, Report of disposition (Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission January 4, 2018).
  • Accepting the parties’ agreement with the masters’ proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law, and recommended sanction, the Indiana Supreme Court suspended a judge for 6 days without pay for barring the county clerk from the courthouse for 6 days after a hearing at which she was not present and of which she had not been adequately notified; holding a hearing that did not reflect patience, dignity, or courtesy and did not promote public confidence in judicial impartiality; commanding 2 deputy clerks to appear for the hearing without written notice of its purpose; and presiding over the hearing even though he had a specific interest in the   In the Matter of Young, 92 N.E.3d 628 (Indiana 2018).
  • Based on the recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Qualifications, the Kansas Supreme Court publicly censured a former magistrate for revoking a defendant’s probation based only on a motion and without providing the defendant an opportunity to respond and failing to cooperate with the Commission. In the Matter of Trigg (Kansas Supreme Court April 6, 2018).
  • Pursuant to an agreement, the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission suspended a judge for 60 days without pay for the use of inmates from the county detention center and publicly owned equipment in the reconstruction of the church he attended and at which he had a leadership role; personally observing community services work and signing documents verifying community services work by criminal defendants on probation in his court; misconduct related to the ankle monitoring program; failing to decide a motion for 3 years; failing to decide motions for shock probation within the statutory time limit; and employing to work on his property a man who was under supervised probation for a guilty plea over which the judge had presided. In re Langford, Agreed order of suspension (Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission April 2, 2018).
  • Based on the recommendation of the Judiciary Commission, the Louisiana Supreme Court suspended a judge for 6 months without pay for a pattern of stalking and harassing his ex-wife. In re Sachse, Opinion (Louisiana Supreme Court March 13, 2018).
  • Adopting the findings of the Judicial Standards Commission and based on its recommendation and the commissioner’s agreement, the North Carolina Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a deputy commissioner of the Industrial Commission for driving under the influence of an impairing substance. In re Shipley, Order (North Carolina Supreme Court April 6, 2018).
  • The Oregon Supreme Court suspended a judge for 3 years without pay for (1) making a false statement to the Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability during its investigation of his conduct at a soccer game and (2) having inappropriate out-of-court contacts with a probationer in the veterans treatment court; twice permitting the probationer to handle a gun despite the prohibition on possession of firearms that was a condition of his probation; and making a false statement to the presiding judge in a meeting about the gun-handling incidents. Inquiry Concerning Day, 413 P.3d 907 (Oregon 2018).
  • The Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline publicly reprimanded a former judge for angrily confronting court staff about complaints to the Judicial Conduct Board. In re Tidd, Opinion (Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline April 4, 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 further disciplinary proceedings against a judge; the Commission had been investigating allegations that the judge had signed warrants for the arrest of 2 men in unrelated incidents without affidavits of probable cause to support the charges, resulting in their illegal arrest and detention. Leal, Voluntary agreement to resign from judicial office in lieu of disciplinary action (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct February 13, 2018).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned a judge for refusing to permit a man to inspect and copy judicial case files and for engaging in a heated conversation with the man; the Commission also ordered the judge to obtain 4 hours of instruction with a mentor on judicial demeanor and public access to judicial case files. Public Warning of Smith and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct February 21, 2018).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for engaging in an intimate relationship with the city prosecutor. Public Reprimand of Berry and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct February 21, 2018).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for posting on his Facebook page a meme endorsing the extermination of Muslims and statements “railing” against liberals. Public Reprimand of Burkeen (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct February 21, 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 further disciplinary proceedings against a judge; the Commission had been investigating allegations that the judge had been arrested for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated and lied to the media about it, in addition to other misconduct. Burkeen, Voluntary agreement to resign from judicial office in lieu of disciplinary action (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct March 29, 2018).
  • Based on a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for presiding over a case in which she had represented the defendant before becoming a judge and making statements about the defendant’s character during sentencing. In re O’Rourke, Stipulation, agreement, and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct March 9, 2018).