Fall Judicial Conduct Reporter

The fall issue of the Judicial Conduct Reporter has been published.  The issue has articles on:

  • Judicial ethics in landlord/tenant cases
  • Interim suspensions pending discipline proceedings or criminal charges
  • Encouraging pro bono services
  • Recent cases
    • Independent investigation:  Commission on Judicial Performance v. Bozeman (Mississippi 2020)
    • Orchestrated release:  Disciplinary Counsel v. Goulding (Ohio 2020)
    • Solar opposition:  Public Warning of Plaster (Texas Commission 2020)

The first article discusses cases in which judges have been disciplined for their conduct in landlord/tenant cases.  It begins with cases in which legal error has been found to constitute judicial misconduct because the judges did not follow the procedures that ensure that tenants and landlords both have an opportunity to be heard.  Next, it summarizes cases in which judges have been disciplined for ex parte communications in eviction matters, sometimes with the landlord, sometimes with the tenant, and sometimes even without a case being filed.  Finally, the article lists cases involving other types of misconduct in landlord/tenant cases.

The article on interim suspension explains that, in over half the states, a judge can be suspended with pay pending the resolution of allegations of misconduct and that over 30 states have constitutional provisions, statutes, or rules that authorize the suspension of a judge with pay pending the outcome of criminal proceedings.  It then describes how that suspension authority differs from state to state based on which authority can suspend the judge—the judicial conduct commission or the supreme court; the stage of the process at which a suspension be imposed—any time or after a formal complaint is filed; what notice and opportunity to be heard the judge receives; whether disciplinary proceedings are expedited when a judge is suspended; and the criterion for when an interim suspension is warranted.

The article on encouraging pro bono services discusses the code and advisory opinions that approve judicial efforts to increase lawyer participation in pro bono programs and the caveats conditioning that permission.

The Judicial Conduct Reporter is published electronically, and an index and current and past issues of the Reporter are available on-line.  Anyone can sign up to receive notice when a new issue is available.

In addition, the Center for Judicial Ethics has posted 3 online CourtClass tutorials.

  • Judges and court staff participating in marches and demonstrations:  In less than 30 minutes, the presentation covers the key points for all employees of the judicial branch, judges and non-judges alike. 
  • Ex parte communications:  The 11-minute presentation introduces this core rule of the code of judicial conduct and discusses judicial discipline cases applying its principles.
  • Ability to pay hearings:  In approximately 35 minutes, the presentation covers the essential constitutional, ethical, and practical aspects of conducting ability to pay hearings in connection with court-ordered financial obligations and bail. 

Perception problem

Based on the judge’s consent, the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for stating, “the Grand Wizard of our Supreme Court said we have to wear these masks,” or words to that effect, to a courtroom audience of criminal defendants, some of whom were African-American.  Re Ledsinger (Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct September 28, 2020).  The judge admitted making the statement in open court on July 16, 2020, referring to the Tennessee Supreme Court’s requirement that face coverings be worn in court.  The judge explained that the statement was spontaneous and intended to “soften any resistance by those present in the courtroom to the requirements of wearing a mask, as we have had negative feedback to this [Supreme Court] mandate.”  The judge acknowledged that he was wrong to make the statement, recognized the perception problem with the comment, said that he meant no disrespect to anyone, and regretted making it.

The Board stated that “participants in a legal proceeding who hear racially insensitive comments, such as the one involved here, may reasonably perceive that the judge is biased or prejudiced” and “may reasonably question whether they received impartial and unbiased treatment” even if, “as here, there is nothing to suggest bias or prejudice in any case.”  The Board also stated that “comments like the one at issue do not inspire” public confidence that “the judge will dispense justice respectfully and fairly.”  The Board said that the comment was not dignified or courteous and impugned a higher court even if the judge did not intend “to cast aspersions on any member” of the Court because those who heard his comment had no way of determining his intent “apart from the words used.  Once such comments are made, the damage is done.” 

Other recent examples of sanctions for expressions of bias or the appearance of bias, derogatory comments, and/or extra-judicial comments that cast doubt on the judge’s capacity to act impartially:

  • A judge who asked a female deputy district attorney, “What kind of Asian [are you]?”  Inquiry Concerning Laettner, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance November 6, 2019) (removal for this and other misconduct).
  • A judge who told an African-American defendant to stop “shucking and jiving.”  Inquiry Concerning Bennett, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance March 25, 2020) (censure for this and other misconduct). 
  • A judge who referred to Caucasian and African-American defendants as “crackers” and “homeboys.”  Disciplinary Counsel v. Burge, 134 N.E.3d 153 (Ohio 2019) (6-month suspension of former judge’s law license for this and other misconduct).
  • A judge who told a reporter, “The young black men – and it’s primarily young black men rather than young black women – charged with felony offenses, they’re not getting good advice from their parents.  Who do they get advice from?  Rag-tag organizations like Black Lives Matters, which tell you, ‘Resist police,’ which is the worst thing in the world you could tell a young black man . . . they teach contempt for the police, for the whole justice system.”  Public Warning of McSpadden (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct November 12, 2019).
  • A judge who, when complaining to law enforcement about trucks associated with a solar farm project that was next to property owned by her family, said, “None of them had driver[‘s] licenses, since they are Mexican.”  Public Warning of Plaster and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct August 12, 2020).

Marching up-date

In a new opinion, the New York Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics stated that judges may permit their law clerks to participate in peaceful Black Lives Matter protests away from the courthouse during non-working hours.  New York Opinion 2020-141.  However, the opinion advised the judges to instruct their clerks not to carry signs calling for the arrest or prosecution of police officers involved in a specific shooting and not to remain with any protestors engaging in vandalism or violence.  The advice applied only to law clerks personally appointed by the judges who do not have quasi-judicial titles or functions.

The Center for Judicial Ethics has compiled and posted on its website summaries of judicial ethics advisory opinions about judges and staff participating in marches, demonstrations, vigils, protests, rallies, and other issue-related community events.  Also, please watch the CJE’s inaugural CourtClass Ethics-in-Brief tutorial on judges and court employees participating in marches and demonstrations.

Throwback Thursday

5 years ago this month:

  • Based on an agreement, the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission suspended a judge for 180 days without pay for (1) presiding over a case for over 3 years even though he had an oil and gas lease agreement with one of the defendants and had a dispute with the company; (2) making numerous calls to the city police department; (3) numerous inappropriate interactions with elected officials and city employees; (4) numerous inappropriate communications with a TV channel manager complaining that programs were politically motivated; (5) leaving voicemail messages for an attorney who regularly practiced before him in which he referred to the attorney as a “coward” and “prick;” (6) inappropriate political activity; (7) 2 months after a case was voluntarily dismissed, engaging in an ex parte communication with an attorney in the case and then holding a status hearing during which he questioned another attorney about his motivation for bringing the lawsuit and accused him of engaging in unethical behavior by issuing improper subpoenas; (8) despite expressing interest in the outcome of a challenge to an election for city commission and criticizing the incumbent candidate, entering a final judgment disqualifying a candidate and naming the successful candidate; (9) numerous inappropriate communications with employees of a newspaper; and (10) presiding over 17 cases in which a company or one of its subsidiaries was a party even though he had a financial relationship with the company and testifying under oath in a temporary suspension hearing before the Commission that he had disclosed the relationship on the record even though there was no disclosure in the pleadings or recorded hearings.  In re Combs, Agreed order of suspension (Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission October 1, 2015).
  • The Minnesota Supreme Court removed a judge for failing to reside within his judicial district and knowingly making a false statement regarding his residency in his affidavit of candidacy. Inquiry into Pendleton, 870 N.W.2d 367 (Minnesota 2015).
  • • Following a de novo proceeding, a Texas Special Court of Review publicly reprimanded a former judge for (1) a pattern of leaving the bench and failing to communicate with counsel and defendants about when or whether she would return; (2) refusing to allow an attorney to appear in her courtroom while he was attired in shorts due to a visible medical impairment; (3) ordering her bailiff to detain a prosecutor who was 8 months pregnant to prevent her from taking a break; (4) referring to an attorney as a “liar” in open court and ordering the bailiff to remove him; (5) filing a motion for reconsideration of her recusal and communicating with the presiding administrative judge about subsequent recusal; and (6) improperly requiring some defendants to pay a portion of fines or costs before she would accept their plea bargains. In re Mullin, Opinion (Special Court of Review Appointed by the Texas Supreme Court October 21, 2015).

Recent cases

  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for telling court staff that he left the priesthood because there was “no pan ocha [sic],” which he believed meant “brown sugar” but which is slang for the female anatomy.  Pollard, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct September 15, 2020).
  • Based on an agreement, the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission publicly reprimanded a judge for intemperate conduct in 2 criminal cases on the same date.  In re Conley, Public reprimand (Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission September 9, 2020).
  • Based on an agreement, the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission suspended a judge for 14 days without pay for failing to recuse herself from a case involving an attorney whom she accused of stealing from her husband, threatening that the attorney was “not going to be conflicted out forever,” and improperly pressuring the clerk and another judge to refuse to provide a video of the proceeding to the attorney.  In re Dutton, Agreed order of suspension (Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission September 4, 2020).
  • Granting a joint motion for approval of a recommendation, the Mississippi Supreme Court suspended a judge for 30 days without pay, publicly reprimanded her, and fined her $1,000 for (1) initiating improper ex parte communications with a third party to investigate a pending civil matter, (2) failing to comply with the statutory limits on money judgments in justice court, and (3) retaliating against a court clerk for filing a complaint with the Commission.  Commission on Judicial Performance v. Bozeman (Mississippi Supreme Court September 24, 2020).
  • Based on a stipulation and the judge’s consent, the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline publicly admonished a judge for giving a “Gag Order, Esquire” patch to a female judge and 4 female staff members and stating during a meeting that the other judge had “erotic” or “risqué” coloring books in her chambers.  In the Matter of Potter, Stipulation and order of consent to public admonishment (Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline September 30, 2020).
  • Accepting a stipulation based the judge’s resignation and his affirmation that he will not seek or accept judicial office in the future, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct terminated a proceeding against a judge; following a hearing on a formal complaint, a referee had found that the judge (1) had approximately 10 conversations with a court employee in and outside the workplace about his campaign for surrogate, repeatedly asking her to consider working on his campaign even after she declined; (2) kissed the employee twice in his chambers without her consent when her transfer was announced; (3) expressed interest in dating a second court employee several times and kissed her 3 times on the cheek without her consent after she told him that her father had been diagnosed with cancer; and (4) falsely denied in his deposition during the Commission investigation that he had expressed romantic interest in the second employee.  In the Matter of Hanuszczak, Decision and order (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 17, 2020).
  • Accepting a stipulation based the judge’s resignation and his affirmation that he will not seek or accept judicial office in the future, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct terminated a proceeding against a judge; the Commission had notified the judge that it was investigating complaints that his demeanor toward and treatment of his court clerks caused 3 or 4 of them to resign and that he had warned residents of a youth home of the consequences of misbehavior at the home, including the possibility of jail time, in the absence of counsel for the youth, while presiding over their cases.  In the Matter of Madden, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 21, 2020).
  • Accepting an agreed statement of facts and recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a non-lawyer for issuing a warrant of eviction against a tenant after an ex parte proceeding even though neither the judge nor the tenant had been presented with a notice of petition, a petition, or an affidavit of service as required by law; calling the tenant a “deadbeat;” and failing to record the proceeding.  In the Matter of Knopf, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 23, 2020).
  • Adopting the findings and recommended sanction of the Board of Professional Conduct, based on stipulations, the Ohio Supreme Court suspended a judge for 6 months for interfering in a case assigned to another judge involving the incarcerated boyfriend of the daughter of his friends, engaging in ex parte communications with the boyfriend, and “orchestrating” his release on a recognizance bond 2 days before his scheduled arraignment; the Court stayed the suspension conditioned on the judge completing 2 hours of CLE on judicial ethics and engaging in no further misconduct.  Disciplinary Counsel v. Goulding (Ohio Supreme Court September 29, 2020).
  • Based on the judge’s consent, the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for stating that, “the Grand Wizard of our Supreme Court said we have to wear these masks,” or words to that effect, to a courtroom audience of criminal defendants, some of whom were African-American.  Re Ledsinger (Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct September 28, 2020).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a former judge for independently investigating allegations by 2 defense attorneys in a murder trial that another attorney had sent their client an anonymous letter, summoning the attorney to court without notice and questioning her, and holding a second proceeding about the allegations without the attorney present.  Public Admonition of Contreras (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 8, 2020), on appeal.
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for displaying a handgun during a public confrontation in a residential neighborhood, contrary to Texas law.  Public Reprimand of Williams (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 8, 2020).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for approaching a paralegal in the courtroom, grabbing her arm or elbow, and admonishing her for sitting in a section of the courtroom reserved for attorneys; the Commission also ordered the judge to complete 2 hours of instruction with a mentor.  Public Admonition of Wilson (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 8, 2020), on appeal.
  • 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 disciplinary proceedings against a former judge; the Commission had received a complaint alleging that the judge had denied an attorney access to his client prior to and at magistration and, during its investigation, learned that the judge had been serving as a full-time licensed police officer since July 2015.  Martinez, Voluntary agreement to resign from judicial office in lieu of disciplinary action (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct July 23, 2020).

Throwback Thursday

25 years ago this month:

  • Following the recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Performance, the California Supreme Court removed a judge from office for (1) being habitually tardy in starting court sessions; (2) failing to report several loans on her annual statement of economic interests; (3) failing to list at least 6 creditors on the voluntary petition of bankruptcy she filed with her husband; (4) becoming personally involved as an advocate for her former gardener in a felony case over which she was presiding; (5) presiding over misdemeanor cases against a woman from whom she had borrowed $4,500 and the woman’s nephews, making statements or taking action in those cases to ingratiate herself to the woman, and telling the woman she (the judge) could not repay the loan but would “work off” the debt by helping to prepare a petition for writ of habeas corpus on behalf of the woman’s husband, who had been convicted of federal felony narcotics trafficking offenses; and (6) asking the woman and her husband not to cooperate in the Commission’s investigation.  Doan v. Commission on Judicial Performance, 902 P.2d 272 (California 1995).
  • Approving a stipulation, the Florida Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for issuing a bench warrant for the immediate arrest of a witness whom the judge should have known had not been properly served.  Inquiry Concerning Graziano, 661 So. 2d 819 (Florida 1995).
  • Following the recommendation of the Judicial Qualifications Commission, the Georgia Supreme Court removed a judge from office for (1) refusing to set appeal bonds for 2 misdemeanor defendants when the law clearly obligated her to do so, (2) issuing bench warrants for the arrests of 2 misdemeanor defendants when their attorney had been late even though the defendants had been in court, and (3) forcing a defendant to enter a plea of guilty in the absence of his counsel.  In the Matter of Vaughn, 462 S.E.2d 728 (Georgia 1995).
  • The Kansas Commission on Judicial Qualifications ordered a judge to cease and desist based on findings that the judge had asked witnesses in a criminal trial inappropriate questions, treated the defendant’s lawyers inappropriately, and injected her personal opinion.  Inquiry Concerning Watson, Cease and Desist Order (Kansas Commission on Judicial Qualifications October 10, 1995).
  • Pursuant to a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for comments from the bench in a number of proceedings that reflected a pattern of inappropriate, insensitive, and/or offensive comments.  In the Matter of Warren, Stipulation, agreement, and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct October 13, 1995).

Explanation of dismissals

When judicial conduct commissions dismiss complaints without filing formal charge or issuing a public sanction (in other words, most complaint dispositions), those dismissals are not disclosed to the public except as a statistic.  However, many states have an exception that allows a commission to release a statement of clarification and correction if allegations against a judge has become public despite the commission’s confidentiality rules.  That exception has been used 2 times so far in 2020.

In New Jersey, a rule provides:

On completion of its preliminary investigation, the [Advisory] Committee [on Judicial Conduct] may . . . if it finds that the allegations are without merit, dismiss them and so inform the person who brought the allegations before the Committee, as well as the judge if the Committee so desires, and if the matter has received public attention, the Committee may, at the request of the judge or on the Committee’s own motion, issue a short explanatory statement after reasonable notice to the Supreme Court . . . .

Applying that exception, in a public statement in June, the Committee explained that it was not initiating formal disciplinary proceedings against a judge based on her comments regarding a sexual assault charge against a juvenile.  The judge had denied the prosecution’s motion for referral of statutory rape charges against a juvenile that would have allowed the juvenile to be tried as an adult.  In her written opinion, the judge characterized the sexual assault as “not an especially heinous or cruel offense beyond the elements of the crimes that the waiver statute intends to target.”  The judge’s opinion had been issued under seal, but the Appellate Division quoted from the opinion when it reversed her decision, the media repeated those quotes, and the Committee received “a number of identical complaints.”

On completion of its preliminary investigation, the [Advisory] Committee [on Judicial Conduct] may . . . if it finds that the allegations are without merit, dismiss them and so inform the person who brought the allegations before the Committee, as well as the judge if the Committee so desires, and if the matter has received public attention, the Committee may, at the request of the judge or on the Committee’s own motion, issue a short explanatory statement after reasonable notice to the Supreme Court . . . .

According to the Committee’s statement, during an informal conference with the Committee, the judge “thoughtfully explained her reasoning and acknowledged that the language in her opinion was inappropriate.”  She told the Committee that she had written her opinion “solely for the parties, who ‘were intimately familiar with the facts of the case, not for the public[,]’” and that, if she had “ever imagined that it would be put out to the public,” she would have added that “every rape, including statutory rape of a 12-year-old, is heinous.’”

Despite that explanation, the Committee concluded that her comments were inappropriate.

However, the Committee also noted that it is difficult to express the concepts the judge was required to find in the waiver analysis, that is, whether the prosecutor had shown that “the sexual assault was particularly egregious beyond its inherent egregiousness” and that “the harm suffered by the victim was above, beyond and in addition to the inherent harm associated with the act itself.”  The Committee found that, in making those findings, the judge had “sacrificed sensitive and conciliatory language in favor of a more clinical, unemotional, perhaps even stoic legal evaluation of the statutory factors and the prosecutor’s burden.”

Nevertheless, the Committee emphasized, the judge had acknowledged “her inappropriate choice of words” and her comments “were an integral part of her statement of reasons for denying waiver rather than a gratuitously offensive comment unrelated to the judicial decision-making process.”  To explain its decision not to file formal charges, it stated:

The Committee is not an Appellate Court.  Its mission is to address wrongful conduct by judges that brings disrepute on the judiciary.  Every debatable opinion does not fall into that category.  Nor does every poor choice of words.  Indeed, the Supreme Court has recognized that the imposition of discipline based on a judge’s decision (even an incorrect one), or the reasons given for that decision, may pose a threat to judicial independence and therefore should be reserved for only the most extreme cases.

The Committee noted that it had decided to issue a public statement “in view of the extensive publicity the matter has received.”  See, e.g.,Judge opposes criminal prosecution in child rape case, NJ senators want her removed from bench,” The Trentonian (July 6, 2019).

In a dissenting statement, 4 members of the Committee wrote:

In our view, this type of case should be heard and resolved through a public hearing that includes testimony and cross-examination, not following a private, informal conference.  Regardless of the ultimate outcome, a more fulsome review and airing of the circumstances here would, we believe, promote the public’s confidence in the Judiciary and the system of judicial discipline . . . .

* * *
In a public statement issued at the judge’s request, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct disclosed that, following an independent investigation, it had dismissed a complaint against Judge Edward McKenna.  The Commission’s rules permit such statements when a judge “is publicly accused or alleged to have engaged in misconduct . . . and the commission, after a preliminary investigation, has determined that no basis exists to warrant further proceedings.”

The Commission statement does not describe the basis for the complaint.  According to a radio station, the judge had filed a self-report after the Seattle City Attorney and County Director of Public Defense criticized him in a public letter for sentencing a defendant to 1 year in jail, contrary to a plea agreement that asked for his release with probation and drug and mental health treatment.

Throwback Thursday

5 years ago this month:

  • Based on the judge’s agreement and waiver of formal proceedings, the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission suspended a judge for 30 days without pay for consuming alcohol to a degree that it affected the performance of his duties. In re Potter, Agreed order of suspension (Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission September 1, 2015).
  • Based on the findings and recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Conduct, the Arizona Supreme Court suspended a judge for 90 days for (1) using his court email account for campaign-related communications, including obtaining a campaign endorsement from an individual who was providing services to his court, and using unprofessional and undignified language in the communications; (2) using improper campaign photographs; (3) campaign activities at 2 official court events where he was acting in his judicial capacity; (4) posting campaign materials at a U.S. Post Office in contravention of federal law; (5) confronting a clerk during court hours about her support of his opponent; (6) failing to disclose the incident involving the clerk; and (7) retaliating against his campaign opponent. In the Matter of Grodman, Order (Arizona September 23, 2015).
  • The California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished a judge for failing to timely act on over 20 matters that had been assigned to him, signing and submitting false salary affidavits on 7 occasions, receiving his salary for judicial office in violation of law on 13 occasions, and failing to prepare a case progression plan in a case he exempted from meeting disposition time goals. Public Admonishment of Reinholtzen (California Commission on Judicial Performance September 3, 2015).
  • Accepting a revised consent judgement, the Florida Supreme Court suspended a judge for 30 days without pay, fined her $10,000, and publicly reprimanded her for (1) a rude and intemperate interaction with a store owner during her judicial election campaign and (2) removing court documents from a case file. Inquiry Concerning Schwartz, 174 So. 3d 987 (Florida 2015).
  • Agreeing with the recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Performance based on the judge’s agreement, the Mississippi Supreme Court removed a former chancery court judge for pleading guilty to federal felony charges of obstruction of justice during the FBI’s investigation of his mismanagement of a conservatorship. Commission on Judicial Performance v. Walker, 172 So. 3d 1165 (Mississippi 2015).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned a judge for defending her decision in a sexual assault case in an interview with a newspaper reporter. Public Warning of Howard and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 5, 2015).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for (1) allowing his name and judicial title to be used to promote the private interests of a bank and his family and continuing to serve as a director of the bank after he assumed the bench; (2) making public comments about 2 cases; (3) independently investigating alleged probation violations and becoming too involved in the state’s motion to revoke a defendant’s probation; (4) improper ex parte communications with a prosecutor in 1 case and a criminal defendant in another; (5) failing to comply with the Texas Fair Defense Act and the county indigent defense plan; (6) using official judicial letterhead to demand that a neighbor reimburse him for veterinary expenses; and (7) summoning a police officer to his office and threatening to report him to the probation department concerning a private dispute between the officer’s children and relatives of the judge’s court reporter. Public Reprimand of Clifford (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 5, 2015).
  • The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly warned a judge for sending an email to the county Republican chair offering her election opponent legal impunity, paid legal expenses, and a political endorsement if her opponent withdrew her complaint about the judge’s ballot petitions and for a Facebook post directing an offensive term to her political opponent; the Commission also ordered the judge to complete 3 additional hours of instruction. Public Warning of Wright and Order of Additional Education (Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 22, 2015).

 

Throwback Thursday

10 years ago this month:

  • The Alabama Court of the Judiciary suspended a judge without pay for 60 days and publicly censured and reprimanded him for (1) without holding a hearing, setting aside the rape conviction of a man he had represented before becoming a judge and (2) criticizing another judge in an order disqualifying himself from a case. In the Matter of King, Final judgment (Alabama Court of the Judiciary September 30, 2010).
  • Adopting the findings of 3 special masters, the California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly censured a judge for failing to comply with procedural requirements or to provide notice or an opportunity to be heard before ordering a small claims plaintiff to have no contact with 3 women and to stay away from a credit union. Inquiry Concerning O’Flaherty (California Commission on Judicial Performance September 23, 2010).
  • Adopting a stipulation and joint recommendation, the Illinois Courts Commission publicly reprimanded a judge for driving while under the influence of alcohol. In re Purham, Order (Illinois Courts Commission September 14, 2010).
  • Pursuant to an agreement, the Minnesota Board on Judicial Standards publicly reprimanded a judge for comments he made while presiding in a criminal case, for example, referring to several possible witnesses as “a bunch of drunkards.” Public Reprimand of Aldrich (Minnesota Board on Judicial Standards September 27, 2010).
  • Pursuant to a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for writing 3 letters on court stationery to members of the Italian judicial system on behalf of a criminal defendant, using court staff to type those letters, and speaking publicly on several occasions in an attempt to influence the case. In the Matter of Heavey, Stipulation, agreement, and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 24, 2010).
  • Pursuant to a stipulation and agreement, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for threatening in a sidebar to physically harm a prosecutor. In the Matter of LaSalata, Stipulation, agreement, and order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 24, 2010).

Throwback Thursday

20 years ago this month:

  • Approving the findings and recommendation of the Judicial Qualifications Commission, the Florida Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for a pattern of rudeness and disrespect toward lawyers, parties, witnesses, victims, and court personnel. Inquiry Concerning Haymans, 767 So. 2d 1173 (Florida 2000).
  • Based on an agreed statement of fact, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge for, during his campaign for another court, implying in campaign advertisements that he was the incumbent judge, making statements that appeared to commit him with respect to abortion issues likely to come before his court, and making improper campaign contributions. In the Matter of Mullin, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 25, 2000).
  • Based on stipulations of fact in lieu of a trial, the Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline removed a former judge from office and disbarred him for his conviction on a federal felony charge of conspiracy to violate civil rights. In re Melograne, 759 A.2d 475 (Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline 2000).
  • Agreeing with the findings and recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Conduct, the South Carolina Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a former municipal court judge for (1) resigning from the California bar as a result of disciplinary action, (2) his conviction of credit card fraud, supplying false tax returns, false employment information, and false social security numbers in applying for a loan, filing false federal income tax returns, mail fraud, and money laundering, and (3) failing to respond to the investigation. In the Matter of Hamer, 537 S.E.2d 552 (South Carolina 2000).
  • Agreeing with the findings and recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Conduct, the South Carolina Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a non-lawyer magistrate for, while serving as a municipal judge, giving favorable treatment to 2 defendants. In the Matter of Sessions, 538 S.E.2d 1 (South Carolina 2000).