Subordinate Judicial Officers – Statistics


Since June of 1998, the commission has shared authority with the superior courts for the discipline of subordinate judicial officers (SJO’s), attorneys employed by California’s state courts to serve as court commissioners and referees. In 2015, there were 255 authorized subordinate judicial officer positions in California.

Subordinate Judicial Officers – Authorized Positions
As of December 31, 2015

  • Court Commissioners233
  • Court Referees22
  • Total255

2015 Statistics

Complaints Received and Investigated

In 2015, the commission reviewed 95 new complaints about subordinate judicial officers. Because the superior courts were required to conduct the initial investigations, the commission’s function primarily entailed reviewing the local courts’ actions to determine whether there was any basis for further investigation or action by the commission.

Rule Under which New Complaints Were Submitted

  • Rule 109(c)(1) appeal from local court’s disposition95
  • Rule 109(c)(2) at the request of a local court0
  • Rule 109(c)(3) notification by local court of discipline0
  • Rule 109(c)(4) notification by local court of resignation with
  • investigation pending0
  • Rule 109(c)(5) subordinate judicial officer retires or resigns
  • before court receives complaint0

2015 Caseload – Subordinate Judicial Officers

  • Cases Pending 1/1/151
  • New Complaints Considered95
  • Cases Concluded94
  • Cases Pending 12/31/151

Discrepancies in totals are due to consolidated complaints/dispositions or reopened matters.

In 2015, the commission commenced one staff inquiry and four preliminary investigations.

Cases Concluded

In 2015, the commission concluded its review of 94 complaints involving subordinate judicial officers. The commission closed 90 of these matters after initial review because it determined that the superior courts’ handling and disposition of the complaints were adequate and that no further proceedings were warranted. Following investigation, the commission closed four of the cases without discipline. At the end of the year, one matter remained pending before the commission.

2015 SJO Complaint Dispositions

  • Total complaint dispositions94
  • Closed after initial review90
  • After independent investigation by the commission:
  • Closed Without Discipline4

Type of Court Case Underlying
SJO Complaints Concluded in 2015

  • Small Claims44%
  • Family Law20%
  • Traffic20%
  • General Civil10%
  • Criminal5%
  • All Others1%
  • (includes anonymous letters, news reports)

Source of Complaints Involving
SJO’s Concluded in 2015

  • Litigant/Family/Friend96%
  • Judge/Court Staff0%
  • Attorney2%
  • All Other Complainants1%
  • Source Other Than Complaint1%