The Judicial Conduct Board (“Board”) does not have the authority to consider all allegations involving judges. It is important to know this before you go to the trouble of filing a complaint.
For example, the Board will not review or change any legal ruling or pass judgment on a judge’s exercise of discretion regardless of the correctness of that ruling or exercise of discretion. These complaints of “legal error” can only be considered by courts created by the Constitution to hear cases on appeal.
There are, however, many other types of conduct that the Board will consider. Generally speaking, these fall into two categories:
- Mental or Physical Disability. This means that a judge is either mentally or physically unable to perform the duties of a judge.
- Ethical Misconduct. Most complaints brought to the Board fit within this category, which covers a broad range of improper or unprofessional behaviors. Since there is no precise definition of what will be considered “ethical misconduct, “you have to make that determination for yourself. This is not always easy to do. For guidance, you might review examples of conduct that the Board has found to warrant discipline. These include:
- Committing a crime
- Extreme and unjustifiable delay in deciding cases
- Accepting football tickets from a litigant in a pending case
- Being intoxicated on the bench
- Operating illegal video poker machines
- Using vulgar and profane language in court
- Sexual harassment
- Inappropriate demeanor directed at litigants, lawyers or court staff