Public Decisions Database

This database contains decisions on all public judicial disciplinary cases since the inception of the commission in 1960. Cases not involving public charges or public discipline remain confidential under the California Constitution and the commission’s rules.

Pursuant to amendments to the Constitution, which took effect in March 1995, the commission is authorized to impose all disciplinary sanctions, subject to discretionary review by the Supreme Court. Prior to that, the Supreme Court had the authority to censure or remove judges from office upon recommendation by the commission.

Case Profile

New Search
First Name Patrick K.
Last Name Couwenberg
Title Judge
Inquiry No. 158
Court Level Superior Court
County/Appellate District Los Angeles
Discipline/Determination Removal from office
Decision By Commission
Date of Decision 08/15/2001
Method of Resolution Decision
Types of Misconduct Failure to cooperate/lack of candor with regulatory authorities
Miscellaneous off-bench conduct
Pre-bench misconduct
Petition For Review Denied 01/16/2002

Judge Couwenberg misrepresented his educational background, legal experience and affiliations on personal data questionnaires submitted for judicial appointment and, while seeking a judicial appointment, falsely represented that he was a Vietnam veteran. He falsely represented to the judge who was to introduce him at the public enrobing ceremony that he was a Vietnam veteran who had received a Purple Heart. He also falsely represented to attorneys that he had served in Vietnam, had a master's degree in psychology, and had shrapnel in his groin received in military combat. During the commission’s investigation of his conduct, the judge made false statements about his education and military experience, both in letters and in testimony before the commission.


[ NOTICE ]     [ ANSWER ]     [ DECISION ]