- California Constitution
The Commission on Judicial Performance was established by legislative constitutional amendment approved by the voters in November 1960. The commission’s authority is set forth in article VI, sections 8, 18, 18.1 and 18.5 of the California Constitution. In 1966, 1976, 1988, 1994, 1998 and most recently in 2002, the Constitution was amended to change various aspects of the commission’s work.
- Rules of the Commission on Judicial Performance
Article VI, section 18(i) of the Constitution authorizes the commission to make rules for conducting investigations and formal proceedings. The Rules of the Commission on Judicial Performance, rules 101 through 138, were adopted by the commission on October 24, 1996, and took effect December 1, 1996. The rules have been amended periodically thereafter.
- Policy Declarations of the Commission on Judicial Performance
The Policy Declarations of the Commission on Judicial Performance detail the commission’s internal procedures and existing policies. A Code of Ethics for Commission Members is set forth in Division VI of the policy declarations.
- Government Code
The commission is subject to Government Code sections 68701 through 68756. Additionally, the Government Code controls the commission’s handling of judges’ disability retirement applications, pursuant to sections 75060 through 75064 and sections 75560 through 75564.
- Code of Civil Procedure
The commission is responsible for enforcing the restrictions on judges’ receipt of honoraria, and limits on gifts, as set forth in Code of Civil Procedure section 170.9. On February 25, 2019, the commission adopted the gift limitation amount of $450 for purposes of CCP section 170.9.
- Code of Judicial Ethics
The Code of Judicial Ethics, adopted by the California Supreme Court, establishes standards for ethical conduct for judges on and off the bench and for candidates for judicial office. All members of the judiciary must comply with the Code. As stated in the Preamble to the Code: “Compliance is required to preserve the integrity of the bench and to ensure the confidence of the public.”
- California Rules of Court
Rules 9.60, 9.61, 10.603, 10.703 and 10.1016 of the California Rules of Court pertain to the Commission on Judicial Performance.
Recent Changes In The Law
Following consideration of comments, on June 26, 2019, the commission adopted various amendments to its rules. Rules 113 and 115 (Notices of Tentative Private or Public Admonishment) were amended to address concerns that the commission has prejudged a matter when it issues a notice of intended, or tentative, private or public admonishment, and to clarify that a notice is only issued after the judge has been provided an opportunity to respond to the allegations in the preliminary investigation. Rule 128 (Amendments to Notice or Answer; Dismissals) was amended to give clear direction to the parties and the special masters about whether a motion to amend the notice of formal proceedings should be decided by the commission or by the special masters. The commission added a new discovery procedure in formal proceedings for subpoenas for production of documents with amendments to rules 122 (Discovery Procedures) and 126 (Procedural Rights of Judge in Formal Proceedings). The commission’s July 8, 2019 public report includes the full text of the amendments, the reasons for the amendments, and a discussion of the public comments submitted.
On September 25, 2018, the commission issued a public report after adopting an amendment to rule 102 (Confidentiality and Disclosure) to allow for release of confidential records to the State Auditor.
Code of Civil Procedure & Government Code
On February 25, 2019, the commission adopted the gift limitation amount of $450 for purposes of CCP section 170.9.
On September 17, 2018, Government Code section 8545 was amended to clarify that confidential commission records in possession of the State Auditor are not public records subject to release under the California Public Records Act.