to inquiries from the Commission because of statutory confidentiality requirements. The
Commission is working with members of the House Judiciary Committee to draft a bill to create
an exception to allow a judge to disclose confidential information as part of an investigation by
the Judicial Conduct Commission. Members and staff of the Judicial Conduct Commission
would of course be bound to keep any such information confidential.
The Commission began accepting complaints January 1, 2002 and meets regularly on the second
Friday of the month at our office in Bow. By the end of the fiscal year in June, we had
considered and dismissed complaints against 14 judges and 3 masters filed by 13 grievants.
Some cases involve multiple grievants or more than one judge, and some grievants file more than
The most common reason for dismissing a complaint is that the grievance is based on the
findings, rulings, or decision of a judge or master. Frequently the grievant is a party to case who
is unhappy with the outcome and complains about the judge’s decision. Accusations of bias are
common, and the Commission carefully reviews all the documentation provided before making a
determination. With rare exception, it is not a violation of the code of judicial conduct for a
judge to make a decision, even if it is in error. The remedy in such a situation is not with the
Commission, but through an appeal.
When there is a complaint about the judge’s temperament or tone of voice, the Commission may
review the transcript or audiotape recording of the proceeding giving rise to the grievance to
confirm or disprove the allegations of misconduct.
While our standard grievance cover sheet (attached as Appendix B) informs the grievant that we
will not consider complaints that have also been filed with the Supreme Court Committee on
Judicial Conduct, people still file them with the Commission and we dismiss them. Likewise,
when we receive a complaint about someone not subject to our jurisdiction, such as a lawyer, we
return the complaint to the grievant.
Data on cases for our first 6 months are in Appendix A.
Under the Commission’s Procedural Rules files of dismissed cases are available for public
inspection after redaction of identifying information about the person complained against. If,
after preliminary investigation, the Commission finds probable cause to believe a judge has
violated the Code of Judicial Conduct, the file and proceedings will be public. We have not yet
had a case meeting this criterion.
The Commission has spent most its first 9 months of existence developing a Code of Conduct,
Procedural Rules, and a personnel manual, as well as setting up and staffing its office. The
volume of complaints has been light, but that may be attributable to our status as a newly created
entity as well as some confusion about the role of the Commission vis à vis the Supreme Court