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Colorado Commission on Judicial Discipline

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Note: State judicial disciplinary agencies do not have appellate jurisdiction or authority over federal court judges and justices.

Colorado

The Colorado Commission on Judicial Discipline was established by an amendment to the state Constitution. It serves as an independent judicial disciplinary agency in Colorado. The commission has jurisdiction over the conduct of judges for the county courts and district courts, as well as justices serving on the court of appeals and the Supreme Court.[1]

Commission members

The commission is made up of ten members: two county court judges, two district court judges, two lawyers and four members of the public. Members serve four-year terms.[2][3]

  • Judges are appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
  • Lawyers must have practiced law in the state for ten years. They are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate.
  • Members of the public must not be current, or former, judges or lawyers. They are also appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate.
  • If a member's position ends in the middle of their term, a new member is appointed to serve the remainder of the unexpired term.
  • Special members may be appointed in a situation where a member is disqualified to act.

The Commission appoints an Executive Director to manage the commission's office and operations.[2]

Members of the commission

A current list of the members can be found on the commission's website.

Case flow description

The standard case flow is as follows:[4]

  • A complaint is filed with or initiated by the Commission.
  • The Executive Director of the Commission screens all complaints and dismisses any that are "frivolous, unfounded, solely appellate in nature, or outside the jurisdiction of the Commission."
  • The Commission reviews the screened complaints and decides if there are sufficient grounds for an investigation.
  • The Commission authorizes the Executive Director to initiate a preliminary investigation and notifies the judge about the complaint and investigation.
  • If the preliminary investigation indicates there is a reasonable basis for the allegation, further investigation will take place.
  • After the investigation, the commission may:
    • Dismiss the complaint.
    • Issue a private admonishment, reprimand, or censure.
    • Defer the case while the judge seeks counseling, medical or other professional help.
    • Issue a finding of probable cause and start formal proceedings.
  • Formal proceedings involve a trial to address misconduct. Special counsel issues a formal complaint against the judge and three special masters are appointed by the Supreme Court hear the case.
  • Formal proceedings may result in:
    • The dismissal of the case.
    • A recommendation to the Supreme Court for: removal, retirement, public reprimand, public censure or other methods to address the misconduct.

State laws

Constitution

The basic mandate of the commission is governed by Article VI, Section 23, of the Colorado Constitution.

Rules of Procedure

As of 2012, the Colorado Rules of Judicial Discipline are list as follows:[5]

PART A. GENERAL PROVISIONS

  • Rule 1. Scope, Objectives and Title
  • Rule 2. Definitions
  • Rule 3. Organization and Administration
  • Rule 4. Jurisdiction and Powers
  • Rule 5. Grounds for Discipline
  • Rule 6. Confidentiality and Privilege [DELETED – now 6.5]
  • Rule 6.5. Confidentiality and Privilege
  • Rule 7. Notice of Action
  • Rule 8. Service
  • Rule 8.5. Procedural Rights of Judge
  • Rule 9. Disqualification of an Interested Party
  • Rule 10. Immunity
  • Rule 11. Amendment of Rules

PART B. PRELIMINARY PROCEEDINGS

  • Rule 12. Filing a Complaint
  • Rule 13. Screening of Complaints
  • Rule 14. Preliminary Investigation
  • Rule 15. Independent Medical Examination
  • Rule 16. Determination
  • Rule 17. Disqualification of a Judge

PART C. FORMAL PROCEEDINGS

  • Rule 18. Statement of Charges, Notice and Pleadings in Formal Proceedings
  • Rule 18.5. Special Masters
  • Rule 19. Response of Judge
  • Rule 20. Setting for Hearing
  • Rule 21. Discovery
  • Rule 22. Subpoena and Inspection
  • Rule 23. Witness Fees and Expenses
  • Rule 24. Special Masters [DELETED – now 18.5]
  • Rule 25. Prehearing Procedures
  • Rule 26. Hearing
  • Rule 27. Procedures and Rules
  • Rule 28. Procedural Rights of Judge [DELETED – now in 8.5 and 33]
  • Rule 29. Amendment to Pleadings
  • Rule 30. Additional Evidence
  • Rule 31. Standard of Proof
  • Rule 32. Recommendation to Supreme Court
  • Rule 33. Record of Proceedings
  • Rule 33.5 Cases Involving Mental or Physical Disability

PART D. DISPOSITIONS AND SANCTIONS

  • Rule 34. Temporary Suspension
  • Rule 35. Dispositions
  • Rule 36. Sanctions
  • Rule 36.5 Conviction of a Crime

PART E. SUPREME COURT ACTION

  • Rule 37. Certification and Notice
  • Rule 38. Exceptions
  • Rule 39. Additional Findings
  • Rule 40. Decision

History

Date Developments
1966 An initiated constitutional amendment provided for the Colorado Commission on Judicial Qualifications.[4]
1982 A constitutional amendment renamed the Colorado Commission on Judicial Qualifications to the Colorado Commission on Judicial Discipline.[4]
2002 A constitutional amendment deleted obsolete language from the constitutional provision regarding the Commission.
2010 The nine canons of the Code of Judicial Conduct were reorganized into four canons.[4]
2012 The Supreme Court enacts a major revision to the Colorado Rules of Judicial Discipline.[4][5]

Code of Judicial Conduct

Below is the summary of the Colorado Code of Judicial Conduct. Full documentation is available at the Colorado Commission on Judicial Discipline's website.

Canon 1: A judge shall uphold and promote the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.
Canon 2: A judge shall perform the duties of judicial office impartially, competently, and diligently.
Canon 3: A judge shall conduct the judge’s personal and extrajudicial activities to minimize the risk of conflict with the obligations of judicial office.
Canon 4: A judge or candidate for judicial office shall not engage in political or campaign activity that is inconsistent with the independence, integrity, or impartiality of the judiciary.[6]

Contact information

Colorado Commission on Judicial Discipline
1300 Broadway, Suite 210
Denver, Colorado 80203
Phone: (303) 457-5131
Fax: (303) 501-1143

See also

External links

References

ColoradoColorado Supreme CourtColorado Court of AppealsColorado District CourtsColorado county courtsDenver Probate Court, ColoradoDenver Juvenile CourtUnited States District Court for the District of ColoradoUnited States Court of Appeals for the Tenth CircuitColorado countiesColorado judicial newsColorado judicial electionsJudicial selection in ColoradoColoradoTemplatewithoutBankruptcy.jpg