The Commission on Judicial Performance has issued a public report concerning adoption of amendments to the Rules of the Commission on Judicial Performance during its 2020 biennial rules review. The Commission has also recently adopted a new interim rule 102(s).

Legal Authority

  • 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 23, 2021, the commission adopted the gift limitation amount of $470 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

Commission Rules

At its meeting on March 24, 2021, pursuant to commission policy declaration 3.5(3), the commission adopted rule 102(s) on an interim basis. Interim rule 102(s) provides:

(Disclosure to respondent in formal proceedings) In compliance with discovery obligations in formal proceedings, the commission may provide to a judicial officer who is the respondent in formal proceedings pursuant to rule 118 et seq., or the judicial officer’s counsel, the written or oral statements of another judicial officer made or obtained during a staff inquiry or preliminary investigation of that judicial officer. To the extent possible, steps will be taken to protect the confidentiality of the judge who provided the relevant information (e.g., by redacting or sealing documents).

Before rule 102(s) is enacted, amended, or repealed on a permanent basis, the commission will circulate the rule for public comment, pursuant to the provisions of policy declaration 3.5(3).

Following consideration of comments, the commission adopted various amendments to its rules, effective October 9, 2020.  A new subdivision (c) was added to rule 125 (Evidence) to make settlement negotiations inadmissible in formal proceedings.  A new subdivision (c) was added to rule 128 (Amendments to Notice or Answer; Dismissals) clarifying that the special masters may not dismiss any charge contained in the notice of formal proceedings.  Rule 129 (Report of Masters) was amended to clarify that the deadlines for the submission of proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law to the special masters, and the submission of the special masters’ report to the commission, run from the receipt of the transcript of the last day of the evidentiary hearing, and not the date of closing arguments. Subdivision (h) to rule 138 (Definitions) was amended to clarify that “mailing” includes “emailing.”   

A public report can be found at the top of this page, including the full text of the amendments; the reasons for the amendments; a discussion of the public comments submitted; reasons for not adopting other proposed rule amendments; and rule proposals that were received but not circulated for public comment, with the commission’s explanation for not pursuing those proposals.

Code of Civil Procedure & Government Code

On February 23, 2021, the commission adopted the gift limitation amount of $470 for purposes of CCP section 170.9.