Active & Former Judges – Statistics


New Complaints

In 2021, the commission considered 1,253 new complaints about active and former California judges. The 1,253 complaints named 920 judges (a total of 801 different judges).

2021 Caseload – Active & Former Judges

  • Cases Pending 1/1/2190
  • New Complaints Considered1,253
  • Cases Concluded1,196
  • Cases Pending 12/31/21127

Discrepancies in totals are due to consolidated complaints/dispositions.

 

Staff Inquiries and Preliminary Investigations

In 2021, the commission ordered 17 staff inquiries and 127 preliminary investigations.

Formal Proceedings

At the beginning of f 2021, there was one formal proceedings pending before the commission: Inquiry Concerning Justice Jeffrey W. Johnson, No. 204. In the Johnson matter, the commission issued a decision on June 2, 2020. The judge filed a petition for review on August 31, 2020, which remained pending at the end of 2020, and was denied by the California Supreme Court on January 27, 2021

During 2021, the commission instituted formal proceedings in one matter: Inquiry Concerning Judge Michael F. Murray, No. 207, which remained pending before the commission.

Formal Proceedings

  • Pending 1/1/211
  • 1Commenced in 2021
  • 1Concluded in 2021
  • Pending 12/31/211

 

Deferral of Investigation

The commission may defer an investigation under certain circumstances. At the beginning of 2021, 17 pending matters had been deferred. The commission ordered 33 matters deferred during 2021. Seven matters were returned to the commission’s active calendar, and were considered and concluded by the commission in 2021. Twelve matters were returned to the active calendar and remained pending before the commission at the end of 2021. Twenty-nine matters remained deferred at the end of the year.

Reasons Investigations were deferred in 2021

  • Deferred pending resolution of underlying case20
  • Deferred pending appeal or other review9
  • Deferred pending civil, criminal or
  • administrative investigation or proceeding0
  • Deferred pending rule 112 monitoring0
  • Deferred pending mentoring4

 

Complaint Dispositions

The following case disposition statistics are based on cases completed by the commission in 2021, regardless of when the complaints were received. (Staff inquiries and preliminary investigations in the cases closed in 2021 may have commenced in prior years. Cases or portions of cases that were pending at the end of 2021 are not included in complaint disposition statistics for 2021.)

In 2021, the commission concluded a total of 1,196 cases. The average time period from the filing of a complaint to the disposition was 3.44 months. See chart of Complaint Dispositions for all cases completed by the commission in 2021.

Type of Court Case Underlying Complaints
Concluded in 2021

  • Criminal30%
  • General Civil24%
  • Family Law23%
  • Small Claims/Traffic7%
  • All Others11%

5% 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 2021

  • Litigant/Family/Friend86%
  • Attorney5%
  • Judge/Court Staff2%
  • All Other Complainants4%
  • (including members of the public)
  • Source Other than Complaint3%
  • (includes anonymous letters, news reports)

 

Cases Closed Without Discipline

In 2021, after obtaining the information necessary to evaluate the complaints, the commission determined that there was not a sufficient showing of misconduct in 1,112 of the complaints. In other words, there was an absence of facts which, if true and not otherwise explained, might constitute misconduct. A substantial percentage alleged legal error not involving misconduct or expressed dissatisfaction with a judge’s decision. The commission closed these complaints without staff inquiry or preliminary investigation.

Following staff inquiry or preliminary investigation, the commission closed another 62 matters without discipline. In these cases, investigation showed that the allegations were unfounded or unprovable, or the judge gave an adequate explanation of the situation.

Cases Closed With Discipline

In 2021, the commission removed one judge, imposed three public admonishments. The commission also issued four private admonishments and eleven 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 2021.

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 2021, the commission closed three 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.