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 2018, there were 236 authorized subordinate judicial officer positions in California.

Subordinate Judicial Officers – Authorized Positions
As of December 31, 2018

  • Court Commissioners226
  • Court Referees10
  • Total236


2018 Statistics

Complaints Received and Investigated

In 2018, the commission reviewed 67 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.

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 discipline1
  • Rule 109(c)(4) notification by local court of resignation with
  • investigation pending0
  • Rule 109(c)(5) subordinate judicial officer retires or resigns
  • before court receives complaint0


2018 Caseload – Subordinate Judicial Officers

  • Cases Pending 1/1/182
  • New Complaints Considered67
  • Cases Concluded68
  • Cases Pending 12/31/182

Discrepancies in totals are due to consolidated complaints/dispositions.


In 2018, the commission commenced three preliminary investigations.

Cases Concluded

In 2018, the commission concluded its review of 68 complaints involving subordinate judicial officers. The commission closed 65 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 public censure, and two public admonishments. At the end of the year, two matters remained pending before the commission.

2018 SJO Complaint Dispositions

      • Total complaint dispositions68
      • Closed after initial review65
      • After independent investigation by the commission:
      • Public Censure1
      • Public Admonishment2


Type of Court Case Underlying
SJO Complaints Concluded in 2018

  • Small Claims40%
  • Family Law31%
  • Traffic8%
  • General Civil10%
  • Criminal4%
  • All Others7%
  • (includes anonymous letters, news reports)


Source of Complaints Involving
SJO’s Concluded in 2018

  • Litigant/Family/Friend94%
  • Judge/Court Staff0%
  • Attorney4%
  • All Other Complainants2%
  • Source Other Than Complaint0%