Subordinate Judicial Officers – Statistics

Since June of 1998, the commission has shared authority with the superior courts for the discipline of subordinate judicial officers (SJO’s), attorneys employed by California’s state courts to serve as court commissioners and referees. In 2023, there were 276 authorized subordinate judicial officer positions in California.

Subordinate Judicial Officers
Authorized Positions
As of December 31, 2023

  • Court Commissioners224
  • Court Referees20
  • Total276

2023 Statistics

Complaints Received and Investigated

In 2023, the commission reviewed 77 new complaints about subordinate judicial officers. Because the superior courts were required to conduct the initial investigations, the commission’s function primarily entailed reviewing the local courts’ actions to determine whether there was any basis for further investigation or action by the commission.

In 2023, the commission commenced two preliminary investigations.

Rule Under which New Complaints Were Submitted

  • Rule 109(c)(1)–appeal from local court’s disposition66
  • Rule 109(c)(2)–at the request of a local court0
  • Rule 109(c)(3)–notification by local court of discipline2
  • Rule 109(c)(4)–notification by local court of resignation
  • with investigation pending0
  • Rule 109(c)(5)–subordinate judicial officer retires or
  • resignsbefore court receives complaint9


2023 Caseload – Subordinate Judicial Officers

  • Cases Pending 1/1/233
  • New Complaints Considered77
  • Cases Concluded78
  • Cases Pending 12/31/232

Cases Concluded
In 2023, the commission concluded its review of 78 complaints involving subordinate judicial officers. The commission closed 75 of these matters after initial review because it determined that the superior courts’ handling and disposition of the complaints were adequate and that no further proceedings were warranted. Following investigation, the commission imposed one private admonishment, one public admonishment, and closed one case without discipline.

At the end of the year, three matters remained pending before the commission.

2023 SJO Complaint Dispositions

      • Total complaint dispositions78
      • Closed after initial review75
      • After independent investigation by the commission:
      • Public Admonishment1

Type of Court Case Underlying
SJO Complaints Concluded in 2023

  • Family Law33%
  • Small Claims38%
  • Traffic2%
  • General Civil19%
  • Criminal4%
  • All Others4%
  • (includes off-bench)

Source of Complaints Involving
SJO’s Concluded in 2023

  • Litigant/Family/Friend92%
  • Attorney0%
  • Judge/Court Staff5%
  • All Other Complainants3%
  • Source Other Than Complaint0%