Active & Former Judges – Statistics


New Complaints

In 2016, the commission considered 1,234 new complaints about active and former California judges. The 1,234 complaints named a total of 1,443 judges (894 different judges). The complaints set forth a wide array of grievances.

2016 Caseload – Active & Former Judges

  • Cases Pending 1/1/16112
  • New Complaints Considered1,234
  • Cases Concluded1,210
  • Cases Pending 12/31/16122

Discrepancies in totals are due to consolidated complaints/dispositions.

 

Staff Inquiries and Preliminary Investigations

In 2016, the commission ordered 85 staff inquiries and 76 preliminary investigations.

Formal Proceedings

At the beginning of 2016, there were three formal proceedings pending before the commission. Two of these matters were concluded in 2016. The commission issued a decision in one matter; however, the judge submitted a petition for review of the commission’s determination and it was pending before the Supreme Court at the end of the year.

The commission instituted formal proceedings in one case during 2016 which remained pending before the commission.

Formal Proceedings

  • Pending 1/1/163
  • 1Commenced in 2016
  • 2Concluded in 2016
  • Pending 12/31/162

 

Deferral of Investigation

The commission may defer an investigation under certain circumstances. At the beginning of 2016, 10 deferred matters were pending. The commission ordered 9 matters deferred during 2016. Four matters were returned to the commission’s active calendar, and were considered and concluded by the commission in 2016. Four matters were returned to the active calendar and remained pending before the commission at the end of 2016. Eleven matters remained deferred at the end of the year.

Reasons Investigations were deferred in 2016

  • Deferred pending resolution of underlying case4
  • Deferred pending appeal or other review2
  • Deferred pending civil, criminal or
  • administrative investigation or proceeding0
  • Deferred pending rule 112 monitoring2
  • Deferred pending mentoring1

 

Complaint Dispositions

The following case disposition statistics are based on cases completed by the commission in 2016, regardless of when the complaints were received. (Staff inquiries and preliminary investigations in the cases closed in 2016 may have commenced in prior years. Cases or portions of cases that were pending at the end of 2016 are not included in complaint disposition statistics for 2016.)

In 2016, the commission concluded a total of 1,210 cases. The average time period from the filing of a complaint to the disposition was 3.30 months. See chart of Complaint Dispositions for all cases completed by the commission in 2016.

Type of Court Case Underlying Complaints
Concluded in 2016

  • Criminal42%
  • General Civil20%
  • Family Law18%
  • Small Claims/Traffic6%
  • All Others10%

4% 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 2016

  • Litigant/Family/Friend88%
  • Attorney3%
  • Judge/Court Staff2%
  • All Other Complainants5%
  • (including members of the public)
  • Source Other than Complaint2%
  • (includes anonymous letters, news reports)

 

Cases Closed Without Discipline

In 2016, after obtaining the information necessary to evaluate the complaints, the commission determined that there was an insufficient showing of misconduct in 1,079 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 81 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 2016, the commission removed one judge, publicly censured one judge and imposed six 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 2016.

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 2016, the commission closed five matters 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.