Active & Former Judges – Statistics

New Complaints

In 2018, the commission considered 1,246 new complaints about active and former California judges. The 1,246 complaints named 1,533 judges (a total of 920 different judges). 

2018 Caseload – Active & Former Judges

  • Cases Pending 1/1/18126
  • New Complaints Considered1,246
  • Cases Concluded1,251
  • Cases Pending 12/31/18103

Discrepancies in totals are due to consolidated complaints/dispositions.


Staff Inquiries and Preliminary Investigations

In 2018, the commission ordered 52 staff inquiries and 80 preliminary investigations.

Formal Proceedings

At the beginning of 2018, there were two formal proceedings pending before the commission. 

During 2018, the commission instituted formal proceedings in two matters: Inquiry Concerning Judge John T. Laettner, No 203; and Inquiry Concerning Justice Jeffrey W. Johnson, No. 204. These matters remained pending before the commission.

Formal Proceedings

  • Pending 1/1/182
  • 2Commenced in 2018
  • 1Concluded in 2018
  • Pending 12/31/183


Deferral of Investigation

The commission may defer an investigation under certain circumstances. At the beginning of 2018, 25 pending matters had been deferred. The commission ordered 17 matters deferred during 2018. Nine matters were returned to the commission’s active calendar, and were considered and concluded by the commission in 2018. Seven matters were returned to the active calendar and remained pending before the commission at the end of 2018. Twenty-five matters remained deferred at the end of the year.

Reasons Investigations were deferred in 2018

  • Deferred pending resolution of underlying case9
  • Deferred pending appeal or other review6
  • Deferred pending civil, criminal or
  • administrative investigation or proceeding0
  • Deferred pending rule 112 monitoring0
  • Deferred pending mentoring2


Complaint Dispositions

The following case disposition statistics are based on cases completed by the commission in 2018, regardless of when the complaints were received. (Staff inquiries and preliminary investigations in the cases closed in 2018 may have commenced in prior years. Cases or portions of cases that were pending at the end of 2018 are not included in complaint disposition statistics for 2018.)

In 2018, the commission concluded a total of 1,251 cases. The average time period from the filing of a complaint to the disposition was 3.10 months. See chart of Complaint Dispositions for all cases completed by the commission in 2018.

Type of Court Case Underlying Complaints
Concluded in 2018

  • Criminal41%
  • General Civil22%
  • Family Law19%
  • Small Claims/Traffic6%
  • All Others8%

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 2018

  • Litigant/Family/Friend89%
  • Attorney4%
  • Judge/Court Staff2%
  • All Other Complainants3%
  • (including members of the public)
  • Source Other than Complaint2%
  • (includes anonymous letters, news reports)


Cases Closed Without Discipline

In 2018, after obtaining the information necessary to evaluate the complaints, the commission determined that there was not a sufficient showing of misconduct in 1,118 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 dissat- isfaction 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 91 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 2018, the commission publicly censured one judge and imposed six public admonishments. The commission also issued 11 private admonishments and 23 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 2018.

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 2018, 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.