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 2017, there were 252 authorized subordinate judicial officer positions in California.

Subordinate Judicial Officers – Authorized Positions
As of December 31, 2017

  • Court Commissioners243
  • Court Referees9
  • Total252


2017 Statistics

Complaints Received and Investigated

In 2017, the commission reviewed 85 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 disposition81
  • Rule 109(c)(2) at the request of a local court1
  • 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 resigns
  • before court receives complaint1


2017 Caseload – Subordinate Judicial Officers

  • Cases Pending 1/1/173
  • New Complaints Considered85
  • Cases Concluded85
  • Cases Pending 12/31/172

Discrepancies in totals are due to consolidated complaints/dispositions.


In 2017, the commission commenced one staff inquiry and four preliminary investigations.

Cases Concluded

In 2017, the commission concluded its review of 85 complaints involving subordinate judicial officers. The commission closed 80 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 admonishment, one private admonishment, issued one advisory letter, closed two of the cases without discipline. At the end of the year, two matters remained pending before the commission.

2017 SJO Complaint Dispositions

      • Total complaint dispositions85
      • Closed after initial review80
      • After independent investigation by the commission:
      • Public Admonishment1
      • Private Admonishment1
      • Advisory Letter1
            • Closed Without Discipline2


Type of Court Case Underlying
SJO Complaints Concluded in 2017

  • Small Claims37%
  • Family Law29%
  • Traffic7%
  • General Civil12%
  • Criminal7%
  • All Others8%
  • (includes anonymous letters, news reports)


Source of Complaints Involving
SJO’s Concluded in 2017

  • Litigant/Family/Friend94%
  • Judge/Court Staff4%
  • Attorney2%
  • All Other Complainants0%
  • Source Other Than Complaint0%