Active & Former Judges – Statistics


New Complaints

In 2017, the commission considered 1,251 new complaints about active and former California judges. The 1,251 complaints named 1,489 judges (a total of 878 different judges). The complaints set forth a wide array of grievances.

2017 Caseload – Active & Former Judges

  • Cases Pending 1/1/17122
  • New Complaints Considered1,251
  • Cases Concluded1,229
  • Cases Pending 12/31/17126

Discrepancies in totals are due to consolidated complaints/dispositions.

 

Staff Inquiries and Preliminary Investigations

In 2017, the commission ordered 84 staff inquiries and 95 preliminary investigations.

Formal Proceedings

At the beginning of 2017, there were two formal proceedings pending before the commission. Both of these matters were concluded in 2017. In one matter, the judge filed a petition for review in December 2016, which was denied by the California Supreme Court in March 2017, and the judge filed a petition for writ of certiorari in June 2017, which was denied by the United States Supreme Court in October 2017. The commission issued a decision in the other matter.

The commission instituted formal proceedings in three cases during 2017, one of which was concluded in October 2017 and two of which remained pending before the commission.

Formal Proceedings

  • Pending 1/1/172
  • 3Commenced in 2017
  • 3Concluded in 2017
  • Pending 12/31/172

 

Deferral of Investigation

The commission may defer an investigation under certain circumstances. At the beginning of 2017, 11 deferred matters were pending. The commission ordered 23 matters deferred during 2017. Nine matters were returned to the commission’s active calendar, and were considered and concluded by the commission in 2017. Five matters were returned to the active calendar and remained pending before the commission at the end of 2017. Twenty-five matters remained deferred at the end of the year.

Reasons Investigations were deferred in 2017

  • Deferred pending resolution of underlying case8
  • Deferred pending appeal or other review10
  • Deferred pending civil, criminal or
  • administrative investigation or proceeding4
  • Deferred pending rule 112 monitoring0
  • Deferred pending mentoring1

 

Complaint Dispositions

The following case disposition statistics are based on cases completed by the commission in 2017, regardless of when the complaints were received. (Staff inquiries and preliminary investigations in the cases closed in 2017 may have commenced in prior years. Cases or portions of cases that were pending at the end of 2017 are not included in complaint disposition statistics for 2017.)

In 2017, the commission concluded a total of 1,229 cases. The average time period from the filing of a complaint to the disposition was 3.59 months. See chart of Complaint Dispositions for all cases completed by the commission in 2017.

Type of Court Case Underlying Complaints
Concluded in 2017

  • Criminal39%
  • General Civil21%
  • Family Law17%
  • Small Claims/Traffic7%
  • All Others9%

7% 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 2017

  • Litigant/Family/Friend86%
  • Attorney4%
  • Judge/Court Staff3%
  • All Other Complainants5%
  • (including members of the public)
  • Source Other than Complaint2%
  • (includes anonymous letters, news reports)

 

Cases Closed Without Discipline

In 2017, after obtaining the information necessary to evaluate the complaints, the commission determined that there was an insufficient showing of misconduct in 1,081 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 106 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. A substantial percentage alleged legal error not involving misconduct or expressed dissatisfaction with a judge’s decision.

Cases Closed With Discipline

In 2017, the commission publicly censured two judges and imposed three public admonishments. The commission also issued 13 private admonishments and 21 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 2017.

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 2017, 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.