Active & Former Judges – Statistics


New Complaints

In 2019, the commission considered 1,241 new complaints about active and former California judges. The 1,241 complaints named 1,465 judges (a total of 895 different judges).

2019 Caseload – Active & Former Judges

  • Cases Pending 1/1/19103
  • New Complaints Considered1,241
  • Cases Concluded1,209
  • Cases Pending 12/31/19108

Discrepancies in totals are due to consolidated complaints/dispositions.

 

Staff Inquiries and Preliminary Investigations

In 2019, the commission ordered 40 staff inquiries and 79 preliminary investigations.

Formal Proceedings

At the beginning of 2019, there were three formal proceedings pending before the commission. One of the matters concluded in 2019, and two remain pending.

During 2019, the commission instituted formal proceedings in one matter: Inquiry Concerning Judge Morris D. Jacobson, No 205. This matter was concluded in 2019.

Formal Proceedings

  • Pending 1/1/193
  • 1Commenced in 2019
  • 2Concluded in 2019
  • Pending 12/31/192

 

Deferral of Investigation

The commission may defer an investigation under certain circumstances. At the beginning of 2019, 25 pending matters had been deferred. The commission ordered 14 matters deferred during 2019. Eight matters were returned to the commission’s active calendar, and were considered and concluded by the commission in 2019. Eight matters were returned to the active calendar and remained pending before the commission at the end of 2019. Twenty-two matters remained deferred at the end of the year.

Reasons Investigations were deferred in 2019

  • Deferred pending resolution of underlying case9
  • Deferred pending appeal or other review4
  • Deferred pending civil, criminal or
  • administrative investigation or proceeding0
  • Deferred pending rule 112 monitoring0
  • Deferred pending mentoring1

 

Complaint Dispositions

The following case disposition statistics are based on cases completed by the commission in 2019, regardless of when the complaints were received. (Staff inquiries and preliminary investigations in the cases closed in 2019 may have commenced in prior years. Cases or portions of cases that were pending at the end of 2019 are not included in complaint disposition statistics for 2019.)

In 2019, the commission concluded a total of 1,209 cases. The average time period from the filing of a complaint to the disposition was 2.78 months. See chart of Complaint Dispositions for all cases completed by the commission in 2019.

Type of Court Case Underlying Complaints
Concluded in 2019

  • Criminal36%
  • General Civil23%
  • Family Law21%
  • Small Claims/Traffic6%
  • All Others11%

3% 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 2019

  • Litigant/Family/Friend90%
  • Attorney4%
  • Judge/Court Staff1%
  • All Other Complainants4%
  • (including members of the public)
  • Source Other than Complaint1%
  • (includes anonymous letters, news reports)

 

Cases Closed Without Discipline

In 2019, after obtaining the information necessary to evaluate the complaints, the commission determined that there was not a sufficient showing of misconduct in 1,129 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 55 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 2019, the commission publicly censured two judges and imposed four public admonishments. The commission also issued 5 private admonishments and 13 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 2019.

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 2019, 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.