The Judicial Ethics Forum (JEF)

An Academic Discussion of Judicial Ethics, Discipline & Disqualification

Archive for February 1st, 2010

Judicial discipline in 2009

Posted by graycynthia on Monday, February, 1, 2010

In 2009, four judges or former judges were removed from office as a result of state judicial discipline proceedings (in one of those cases, the judge was permanently disbarred, effectively removing him from office).  In addition, one former part-time judge was permanently barred from serving in any judicial capacity, and one judge was suspended without pay until the end of his term.  Seven judges resigned (or agreed not to run at the expiration of their terms) in lieu of discipline pursuant to agreements with judicial conduct commissions that were made public.  (These figures do not include proceedings pending before a state supreme court.)

95 additional judges (or former judges in seven cases) received other public sanctions in 2009.  In approximately 53 of those cases, the discipline was imposed pursuant to the consent of the judge.  In addition to the sanction, in some of those cases, the judges were ordered to complete judicial ethics training, were placed on probation and required to complete a mentorship, or were barred from seeking judicial office in the state again.

There were 13 suspensions without pay, ranging from 30 days to one year.  One suspension also included a reprimand, one included a reprimand and censure, and one included a reprimand as an attorney.

In addition, 21 judges were publicly censured; 37 were publicly reprimanded (one reprimand also included a $25,000 fine); 15 were publicly admonished; and five received public warnings.

Two private reprimands were made public with the judge’s agreement.  In one case, a judge was ordered to establish his primary residence in the county where the law required that he reside.  Bar discipline authorities sanctioned one former judge for conduct on the bench.

To compare, in 2008, 13 judges were removed; 1 former judge was permanently barred; 1 judge was found to be permanently disabled; 1 was permanently retired; 2 were suspended with pay until the end of their terms; 11 judges resigned or retired pursuant to public agreements; and 114 judges or former judges received other public sanctions.  Between 1980 and the end of 2008, approximately 367 state judges had been removed from office as a result of state judicial discipline proceedings.

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