Online Complaint Instructions
To file a judicial misconduct complaint online, please fill out the online form. Please read the instructions below and then click Next at the bottom of this page to begin filling out the online complaint form.
If you are unable to fill out the form online, you may print and mail the completed Printable Complaint Form to the commission.
For more information on how to file a complaint, visit the commission’s Filing a Complaint webpage, which includes links to fictitious examples of complaints that would warrant further inquiry, and could, if proven by clear and convincing evidence, result in a finding of judicial misconduct.
For questions call (415) 557-1200. The commission does not accept complaints by phone. If you have a disability that prevents you from submitting a written complaint, please contact the commission’s office to discuss how this office can best accommodate your needs.
- The commission’s jurisdiction includes all judges of California’s superior courts and the justices of the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. The commission also has jurisdiction over former judges for conduct prior to retirement or resignation. Additionally, the commission shares authority with the superior courts for the oversight of court commissioners and referees. The Director-Chief Counsel of the commission is designated as the Supreme Court’s investigator for complaints involving the judges of the State Bar Court.
- The commission does not have authority over federal judges, workers’ compensation judges, judges pro tem or private judges. See Questions 10 through 14 on the FAQ’s page for further information.
- If your complaint is about a court commissioner or referee, it must first be directed to the presiding judge of the court in which the matter was heard. If you want the commission to review the local court’s final action on your complaint against a court commissioner or referee, you must file a written request with the commission within 30 days after the date the notice of the local court’s action on the matter was mailed. Please provide copies of your correspondence to and from the local courts.
- Please provide your name, email address, telephone number, and address. So that we may promptly communicate with you, please provide an email address to which you have exclusive access and do not share with others.
- The California Constitution and the rules governing the commission provide for confidentiality of complaints and investigations. During the investigation process, considerable effort is made to protect complainants’ and witnesses’ identities. If the matter is sufficiently serious to warrant the filing of formal charges, the case becomes public and the charges and all subsequently filed documents are made available to the public, and any hearings in the matter are open to the public. A complainant may be called to testify at the hearing.
Your Attorney’s Information (if any)
- If you were represented by an attorney in the matter involving the judicial officer, please provide your attorney’s name, email address and telephone number.
Judge’s Information and Conduct
- Provide the full name of the judicial officer that is the subject of your complaint, and the court in which the judicial officer sits.
- If you would like to submit a complaint about more than one judicial officer, add their names.
- If your complaint involves a court case, provide the case type, name, and number, and your relationship to the case.
- Provide the date or dates the conduct occurred.
- In the Description of Conduct section, provide a detailed description of the action or behavior that you believe is misconduct
- A complaint should not simply state conclusions, such as “the judge was rude” or “the judge was biased.” Instead, the complaint should fully describe what the judicial officer did and said. If a court document, such as a minute order or transcript, or an audio or video recording shows the misconduct, you may submit a copy (do not send original documents) or mention it in your complaint.
- An error in a judge’s decision or ruling is not, by itself, misconduct. A complaint that describes a legal error, but does not describe judicial misconduct, will not be investigated. For example, allegations that a judge has wrongfully excluded evidence, imposed an improper sentence, awarded custody to the wrong party, incorrectly awarded spousal or child support, incorrectly resolved a legal issue, or believed perjured testimony do not generally constitute misconduct.
- It is not necessary to provide legal analysis or a discussion of the applicable canons of the Code of Judicial Ethics. What is needed is a full statement of facts describing the judicial officer’s misconduct.
- You may use the commission’s Public Discipline Database to see whether a judicial officer has a public record of prior discipline in California.
Upload Attachments, Submit Complaint
- As part of the online complaint form, you may upload up to 10 attachments, with a maximum of 10 MB each. Allowable file types are jpg, pdf, doc, docx, xls, png, mov, and mpeg.
- Provide any helpful documents. Send only copies and keep the originals. All documents you send, originals or copies, become the property of the Commission on Judicial Performance and are subject to future destruction.
- If your complaint is about a court commissioner or referee, provide copies of your correspondence to and from the local courts; your complaint must be received within 30 days of the mailing of the local court’s response.
- If a court document, such as a minute order or transcript, or an audio or video recording shows the misconduct, you may submit a copy.
- If you would like to submit supporting documents separately, you may mail them to the commission office at Commission on Judicial Performance, 455 Golden Gate Avenue, Suite 14400, San Francisco, CA 94102, or fax documents under 10 pages to (415) 557-1266.
After You Submit
Each complaint is acknowledged by letter when it is received at the commission office. The commission considers each complaint and determines whether sufficient facts exist to warrant an investigation or whether the complaint is unfounded and should not be pursued. Until the commission has authorized an investigation, staff does not contact the judge or court personnel; however, to assist the commission in its initial review of a complaint, the commission’s legal staff will research any legal issues and may obtain additional relevant information from the complainant. The commission’s procedures are explained in Overview of Commission Proceedings and Commission Proceedings Chart.
It is difficult to predict how long it will take for the commission to reach a final decision regarding a particular complaint. Some complaints can be handled quickly; others are more complex and take more time.
Each person who submits a complaint is notified in writing after the commission has reached a final decision regarding the complaint. Unless public discipline has been issued, the complainant will be advised either that the commission has closed the matter or that appropriate corrective action has been taken, the nature of which is not disclosed. When public discipline is issued, the notice of such discipline is provided to the complainant.