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Misconduct Report: November 2014

Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct

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

Arizona

The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct is a constitutionally mandated judicial disciplinary agency in Arizona. It was established in 1970 after state voters approved an amendment to the Arizona Constitution. The Commission has oversight over all state judges in regard judicial conduct.[1]

Composition of the Commission

The Commission consists of eleven members: six judges, two lawyers, and three members of the public. All members have six-year terms.[2]

  • The judges include two from the Court of Appeals, two from the Superior Court, one from the Justice Court, and one from the Municipal Courts. All are appointed by the Arizona Supreme Court.
  • The two lawyers, who must be members of the State Bar, are appointed by the Board of Governors of the State Bar of Arizona.
  • The three members of the public, who must not be active or retired judges or members of the State Bar, are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate

Members of the Commission do not receive compensation other than travel allowance. They meet regularly and are supported by professional staff.[3]

Members of the Commission

A current list of the members can be found on the Arizona Judicial Branch website.

Case flow description

In general, the a case regarding a complaint happens as follows:[3]

  • A complaint is filed against a judge to the commission's office.
  • The complaint is screened and investigated.
  • When the investigation is complete, the judge will be notified of the commission’s decision.
  • If the commission seeks discipline, they may either issue an informal reprimand, or file formal charges and hold a public hearing. In the case of formal charges, a public hearing is held. Recommendations are then given to the Supreme Court for final actions, including censure, suspension without pay, and removal from office, and involuntary retirement.
  • A judge may file a motion for reconsideration within fifteen days if they disagree with the commission’s decision.

State laws

Constitution

Article XI.I
1. Composition; appointment; term; vacancies

Section 1. A. A commission on judicial conduct is created to be composed of eleven persons consisting of two judges of the court of appeals, two judges of the superior court, one justice of the peace and one municipal court judge, who shall be appointed by the supreme court, two members of the state bar of Arizona, who shall be appointed by the governing body of such bar association, and three citizens who are not judges, retired judges nor members of the state bar of Arizona, who shall be appointed by the governor subject to confirmation by the senate in the manner prescribed by law.
B. Terms of members of the commission shall be six years, except that initial terms of two members appointed by the supreme court and one member appointed by the state bar of Arizona for terms which begin in January, 1991 shall be for two years and initial terms of one member appointed by the supreme court and one member appointed by the state bar of Arizona for terms which begin in January, 1991 shall be for four years. If a member ceases to hold the position that qualified him for appointment his membership on the commission terminates. An appointment to fill a vacancy for an unexpired term shall be made for the remainder of the term by the appointing power of the original appointment.
Section 2. Disqualification of judge
Section 2. A judge is disqualified from acting as a judge, without loss of salary, while there is pending an indictment or an information charging him in the United States with a crime punishable as a felony under Arizona or federal law, or a recommendation to the supreme court by the commission on judicial conduct for his suspension, removal or retirement.
Section 3. Suspension or removal of judge
Section 3. On recommendation of the commission on judicial conduct, or on its own motion, the supreme court may suspend a judge from office without salary when, in the United States, he pleads guilty or no contest or is found guilty of a crime punishable as a felony under Arizona or federal law or of any other crime that involves moral turpitude under such law. If his conviction is reversed the suspension terminates, and he shall be paid his salary for the period of suspension. If he is suspended and his conviction becomes final the supreme court shall remove him from office.
Section 4. Retirement of judge
Section 4. On recommendation of the commission on judicial conduct, the supreme court may retire a judge for disability that seriously interferes with the performance of his duties and is or is likely to become permanent, and may censure, suspend without pay or remove a judge for action by him that constitutes wilful misconduct in office, wilful and persistent failure to perform his duties, habitual intemperance or conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice that brings the judicial office into disrepute.
B. A judge retired by the supreme court shall be considered to have retired voluntarily. A judge removed by the supreme court is ineligible for judicial office in this state.
Section 5. Definitions and rules implementing article
Section 5. The term "judge" as used in this article shall apply to all justices of the peace, judges in courts inferior to the superior court as may be provided by law, judges of the superior court, judges of the court of appeals and justices of the supreme court. The supreme court shall make rules implementing this article and providing for confidentiality of proceedings. A judge who is a member of the commission or supreme court shall not participate as a member in any proceedings hereunder involving his own censure, suspension, removal or involuntary retirement.
Section 6. Article self-executing
Section 6. The provisions of this article shall be self- executing.

Statutes

Rules of Procedure

While the Commission is independent, its rules must be approved by the Supreme Court.[3] The Commission Rules (as amended of February 19, 2010) can be found here.

  • Rule 1. Scope of authority
  • Rule 2. Purpose and jurisdiction
  • Rule 3. Organization
  • Rule 4. Administration
  • Rule 5. Purpose of judicial discipline
  • Rule 6. Grounds for discipline
  • Rule 7. Misconduct distinguished from error
  • Rule 8. Right to counsel
  • Rule 9. Public access and confidentiality
  • Rule 10. Notification to complainant
  • Rule 11. Administration of oaths
  • Rule 12. Service
  • Rule 13. Subpoena power
  • Rule 14. Prohibition against retaliation
  • Rule 15. Immunity from civil suit
  • Rule 16. Dispositions in general
  • Rule 17. Informal sanctions
  • Rule 18. Formal sanctions
  • Rule 19. Mitigating and aggravating factors
  • Rule 20. Commencement
  • Rule 21. Initial screening
  • Rule 22. Investigation
  • Rule 23. Commission review
  • Rule 24. Formal charges
  • Rule 25. Response
  • Rule 26. Discovery
  • Rule 27. Hearings
  • Rule 28. Recommendations
  • Rule 29. Supreme court review
  • Rule 30. Discipline by consent
  • Rule 31. Interim reassignment
  • Rule 32. Medical examination
  • Rule 33. Incapacity proceedings
  • Rule 34. Compliance proceedings

Commission decisions

A compiled summary of major cases can be found here.

  • In Re Avalos, JUD-2 (June 26, 1980)
  • In Re Soto, JUD-3 (September 26, 1980)
  • In Re Haddad, 128 Ariz. 490, 627 P.2d 221 (1981)
  • In Re Weeks, 134 Ariz. 521, 658 P.2d 174 (1983)
  • In Re Scott, JUD7 (November 6, 1984)
  • In Re Hendrix, 145 Ariz. 345, 701 P.2d 841 (1985)
  • In Re Rubi, 148 Ariz. 167, 713 P.2d 1225 (1985)
  • In Re Haines, JQ-86-0001 (March 18, 1986)
  • In Re Goodman, JQ-86-0002 (April 8, 1986)
  • In Re Walker, 153 Ariz. 307, 736 P.2d 790 (1987)
  • In Re Biggins, 153 Ariz. 439, 737 P.2d 1077 (1987)
  • In Re Ackel, 155 Ariz. 34, 745 P.2d 92 (1987) and CV-88-0002-SA (January 26, 1988)
  • In Re Weisenburger, JQ-88-0001 (January 20, 1988)
  • In Re Garcia, JQ-88-0003 (October 14, 1988)
  • In Re Marquardt, 161 Ariz. 206, 778 P.2d 241 (1989)
  • In Re Lockwood, 167 Ariz. 9, 804 P. 2d 738 (1990)
  • In Re Lehman, 168 Ariz 174, 812 P. 2d 992 (1991)
  • In Re Anderson, 168 Ariz. 432, 814 P.2d 773 (1991)
  • In Re Gumaer, 177 Ariz. 280, 867 P.2d 850 (1994)
  • In Re Peck, 177 Ariz. 283, 867 P.2d 853 (1994)
  • In Re Lorona, 178 Ariz. 562, 875 P.2d 795, (1994)
  • In Re Jett, 180 Ariz. 103, 882 P.2d 414 (1994)
  • In Re Goodfarb, 179 Ariz. 400, 880 P.2d 620 (1994)
  • In Re Braun, 180 Ariz. 240, 883 P.2d 996 (1994)
  • In Re Garcia, JC-94-0005, 180 Ariz. 294, 884 P.2d 180 (1994)
  • In Re Mirretti, Case 94-017, 181 Ariz. 288, 889 P.2d 1086 (1995)
  • In Re Koch, 181 Ariz. 352, 890 P.2d 1137 (1995)
  • In Re Nichols, JC-96-0001 (March 21, 1996)
  • In Re Harris, JC-96-0002 (September 20, 1996)
  • In Re Lerma, JC-97-0002 (April 14, 1997)
  • In Re Bradshaw, JC-97-0001 (June 6, 1997)
  • In Re Fleischman, 188 Ariz. 106, 933 P.2d 563 (1997)
  • In Re Manuz, JC98-0001 (April 10, 1998)
  • In Re Morales, JC-980002 (September 11, 1998)
  • In Re Pearlman, JC-98-0003 (December 10, 1998)
  • In Re Guzman, JC-99-0001 (January 25, 1999)
  • In Re Lamb, Case 99-041 (June 19, 2000)
  • In Re Curfman, JC-98-0004 (April 20, 1999)
  • In Re Montiel, JC-97-0003 (May 26, 1999)
  • In Re Flournoy, 195 Ariz. 441, 990 P.2d 642 (1999)
  • In Re Ventre, JC-00-0001 (January 2000)
  • In Re Scholl, JC-96-0004 (February 18, 2000)
  • In Re Carpenter, JC-00-0002 (January 18, 2001)
  • In Re Irwin, JC-00-0003 (November 29, 2000)
  • In Re Dobronski, JC-01-0001 and JC-01-0002 (February 22, 2002)
  • In Re Villegas, JC-02-0002 (November 18, 2002)
  • In Re Watkins, JC-03-0001 (December 16, 2003)
  • In Re Nelson, JC-03-0002 (April 22, 2004)
  • In Re Thomson, JC-04-0001 (April 19, 2004)
  • In Re Forgach, JC-04-0002 (April 22, 2004)
  • In Re Romney, JC-04-0003 (June 29, 2004)
  • In Re Johnson, JC-04-0004 (August 16, 2004)
  • In Re Hatch, JC-04-0005 (November 26, 2004)
  • In Re McVay, JC-05-0002 (March 22, 2005)
  • In Re Overson, JC-05-0003 (September 8, 2005)
  • In Re Colglazier, JC-06-0003 (December 29, 2006)
  • In Re Malka, JC-06-0004 (December 29, 2006)
  • In Re D. Morales, JC-07-0001 (January 22, 2007)
  • In Re R. Morales, JC-07-0002 (January 24, 2007)
  • In Re J. McVay, JC-07-0003 (September 25, 2007)
  • R. Bruce Overson, CJC Case No. 07-039 (December 28, 2007)
  • In Re Quentin Tolby, CJC Case No. 08-161 (December 2, 2008)
  • In Re G. Michael Osterfeld, CJC Case No. 08044 (January 28, 2009)
  • In Re Howard D. Hinson, Jr., JC-09-0002 (June 2009)
  • In Re Patty Nolan, JC-10-001 (June 30, 2010)
  • In Re Clyde Andress, JC-10002 (October 26, 2010)
  • In Re Carmine Cornelio, JC-10-003 (December 9, 2010)
  • In Re Mark Chiles, JC-11-002 (May 18, 2011)
  • In Re Theodore Abrams, JC-11-001 (June 3, 2011)

Complaint statistics

Year # of Judges in Jurisdiction # of Inquiries Cases Filed Cases Dismissed Informal Sanctions Formal Sanctions Consolidated Cases Unresolved Cases
2010 no information 444 362 350 6 2 0 0
2009 no information 380 348 324 6 2 0 1
2008 819 677 334 327 4 3 0 0
2007 819 574 324 317 4 1 2 0
2006 816 798 321 310 5 6 0 0
2005 789 865 334 321 11 1 1 0
2004 763 992 309 286 14 3 6 0
2003 681 975 338 321 13 3 1 0
2002 536 894 353 324 25 2 2 0
2001 508 990 329 302 4 2 11 0
2000 500 945 320 269 13 2 36 0

Statistics via The Commission of Judicial Conduct: Annual Reports. Reports are available back to 1971.

History

Date Developments
1970 Proposition 103 adds Article VI.I to the Arizona Constitution, creating the Commission on Judicial Qualifications.[3]
1971 The Commission begins to operate.[4]
1988 Proposition 102 renames the Commission to the Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct, provides for two additional members, increases terms from four to six years, expands oversight to municipal court judges, and allows for suspension without pay as a discipline option.
1993 The Arizona Supreme Court adopts a Code of Judicial Conduct.[5]
2009 The Arizona Supreme Court adopts a Code of Judicial Conduct.[6]

Code of Judicial Conduct

Below is the summary of the Arizona Code of Judicial Conduct (of 2009). Full documentation is available at the Arizona Judicial Branch website (dead link).

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 extrajudicial activities so as 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.[7]

Contact information

Commission on Judicial Conduct
1501 W. Washington Street, Suite 229
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Phone:(602) 452-3200
Fax: (602) 452-3201
Email: cjc@supreme.sp.state.az.us
(Note:Complaints may not be filed via email)[1]

See also

External links

References

ArizonaArizona Supreme CourtArizona Court of AppealsArizona Superior CourtArizona Justice CourtsArizona Municipal CourtsUnited States District Court for the District of ArizonaUnited States Court of Appeals for the Ninth CircuitArizona countiesArizona judicial newsArizona judicial electionsJudicial selection in ArizonaArizonaTemplatewithoutBankruptcy.jpg