Active & Former Judges – Statistics

New Complaints

In 2015, the commission considered 1,245 new complaints about active and former California judges. The 1,245 complaints named a total of 1,517 judges (929 different judges). The complaints set forth a wide array of grievances.

2015 Caseload – Active & Former Judges

  • Cases Pending 1/1/15114
  • New Complaints Considered1,245
  • Cases Concluded1,231
  • Cases Pending 12/31/15112

Discrepancies in totals are due to consolidated complaints/dispositions.

Staff Inquiries and Preliminary Investigations

In 2015, the commission ordered 69 staff inquiries and 83 preliminary investigations.

Formal Proceedings

At the beginning of 2015, there were two formal proceedings pending before the commission. One of these matters was concluded in 2015.

The commission instituted formal proceedings in three cases during 2015. One matter was concluded in 2015. The other matters remained pending before the commission at the end of the year.

Formal Proceedings

  • Pending 1/1/152
  • Commenced in 20153
  • Concluded in 20152
  • Pending 12/31/153

Deferral of Investigation

The commission may defer an investigation under certain circumstances. At the beginning of 2015, 14 deferred matters were pending. The commission ordered 10 matters deferred during 2015. Eleven matters were returned to the commission’s active calendar, considered and concluded by the commission in 2015. Three matters were returned to the active calendar and remained pending before the commission at the end of 2015. Ten matters remained deferred at the end of the year.

Reasons Investigations were deffered in 2015

  • Deferred pending resolution of underlying case1
  • Deferred pending appeal or other review7
  • Deferred pending civil, criminal or
  • administrative investigation or proceeding2
  • Deferred pending rule 112 monitoring0

Complaint Dispositions

The following case disposition statistics are based on cases completed by the commission in 2015, regardless of when the complaints were received. (Staff inquiries and preliminary investigations in the cases closed in 2015 may have commenced in prior years. Cases or portions of cases that were pending at the end of 2015 are not included in complaint disposition statistics for 2015.)

In 2015, the commission concluded a total of 1,231 cases. The average time period from the filing of a complaint to the disposition was 3.09 months. See chart of Complaint Dispositions for all cases completed by the commission in 2015.

Type of Court Case Underlying Complaints
Concluded in 2015

  • Criminal41%
  • General Civil22%
  • Family Law16%
  • Small Claims/Traffic9%
  • All Others6%

6% of the complaints did not arise out of court cases. These complaints concerned off-bench conduct, such as the handling of court administration and political activity.

Source of Complaints Concluded in 2015

  • Litigant/Family/Friend88%
  • Attorney5%
  • Judge/Court Staff1%
  • All Other Complainants3%
  • (including members of the public)
  • Source Other than Complaint3%
  • (includes anonymous letters, news reports)

Cases Closed Without Discipline

In 2015, after obtaining the information necessary to evaluate the complaints, the commission determined that there was an insufficient showing of misconduct in 1,103 of the complaints. In other words, there was an absence of facts which, if true and not otherwise explained, might constitute misconduct. The commission closed these complaints without staff inquiry or preliminary investigation.

Following staff inquiry or preliminary investigation, the commission closed another 86 matters without discipline. In these cases, the investigation showed that the allegations were unfounded or unprovable, or the judge gave an adequate explanation of the situation. A substantial percentage alleged legal error not involving misconduct or expressed dissatisfaction with a judge’s decision.

Cases Closed With Discipline

In 2015, the commission publicly censured two judges and imposed two public admonishments. The commission also issued 11 private admonishments and 26 advisory letters. See Public Discipline & Decisions and Private Discipline Summaries. Discipline has been categorized according to the Types of Misconduct. A chart of the Types of Conduct Resulting in Discipline indicates the number of times specific types of misconduct resulted in discipline in 2015.

Resignations and Retirements

The Constitution authorizes the commission to continue proceedings after a judge retires or resigns and, if warranted, to impose discipline upon the former judge. When a judge resigns or retires during proceedings, the commission determines whether to continue or close the case and, if the case is closed, whether to refer the matter to another entity such as the State Bar. In 2015, the commission closed one matter without discipline when the judge resigned or retired with an investigation pending.

10-Year Summary of Commission Activity

The 10-Year Summary of Commission Activity chart provides statistics on case actions by the commission over the last 10 years.