Report Analyzes Discipline of California Trial Judges, 1990-2009

Article excerpt

The California Commission on Judicial Performance, the independent state agency responsible for investigating allegations of judicial misconduct and disciplining California judges, has released Summary of Discipline Statistics, 1990-2009, which follows up on an earlier report: Summary of Discipline Statistics, 1990-1999. The report includes a statistical summary of cases and summarizes data describing certain characteristics of disciplined judges. The report was prepared by students in the Stanford University Public Policy Program with information provided by the commission and the Administrative Office of the Courts.

Examining discipline of trial court judges from 1990 through 2009, the report found the number of sanctions imposed per judge decreased substantially after 1999, while the number of complaints decreased slightly. The decrease was only in the issuance of advisory letters; the frequency of all other sanctions, including public reprovals, public and private admonishments, public censures and decisions removing judges from office, remained relatively constant. The report notes that "there may be any number of factors contributing to this decrease; the data reported here do not permit conclusions to be drawn about causation factors" but that, in 1999, in Oberholzer v. …