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 2021, there were 250 authorized subordinate judicial officer positions in California.

Subordinate Judicial Officers
Authorized Positions
As of December 31, 2021

  • Court Commissioners240
  • Court Referees10
  • Total250


2021 Statistics

Complaints Received and Investigated

In 2021, the commission reviewed 62 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 2021, the commission commenced one preliminary investigation.

Rule Under which New Complaints Were Submitted

  • Rule 109(c)(1) appeal from local court’s disposition58
  • Rule 109(c)(2) at the request of a local court0
  • Rule 109(c)(3) notification by local court of discipline0
  • 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 complaint4


2021 Caseload – Subordinate Judicial Officers

  • Cases Pending 1/1/211
  • New Complaints Considered62
  • Cases Concluded61
  • Cases Pending 12/31/212


Cases Concluded
In 2021, the commission concluded its review of 61 complaints involving subordinate judicial officers. The commission closed 61 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.

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

2021 SJO Complaint Dispositions

      • Total complaint dispositions61
      • Closed after initial review61


Type of Court Case Underlying
SJO Complaints Concluded in 2021

  • Family Law37%
  • Small Claims35%
  • General Civil13%
  • Traffic6%
  • Criminal5%
  • All Others4%
  • (includes off-bench)


Source of Complaints Involving
SJO’s Concluded in 2021

  • Litigant/Family/Friend97%
  • Judge/Court Staff0%
  • Attorney0%
  • All Other Complainants1%
  • Source Other Than Complaint2%