Three judges were removed from office last year and another 11 resigned after investigations by the state Commission on Judicial Conduct found the jurists had breached their ethical or legal responsibilities.
The agency, which oversees the state court system, received 1,785 complaints about judges suspected of misconduct in 2012, leading to 460 preliminary inquiries, 182 full-fledged investigations and 20 reprimands, the group disclosed in an annual report Thursday. That’s up from 14 reprimands in 2011.
In addition to the judges who left office after charges were brought against them, nine judges were censured and three were publicly admonished after the commission determined they’d abused their power.
“It’s fair to say that any number of disciplines against judges is too many, to the extent that it reflects misconduct being committed by those who have an ethical obligation to uphold the highest standards,” commission administrator Robert Tembeckjian said. “But given that there are 3,500 judges in the court system, the number who are disciplined really doesn’t reflect a systemic ethics problem among the judiciary.”
Although there were more reprimands in 2012 than the previous year, more judges resigned in 2011, when fifteen jurists stepped down from their posts. There were also more complaints filed in 2011 compared to last year. There were 1,818 complaints in 2011.
The commission may discipline judges but does not have the authority to request that cases be reopened, should it appear that a judge’s ethical or legal breach jeopardized a case. Tembeckjian said a party in the case would have that option.
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Twenty Judges Reprimanded in 2012