August 15, 2019 Substantive Law

Sexual Harassment and Judicial Discipline

By Cynthia Gray

Reprinted with permission from The Judges’ Journal, Fall 2018 (57:4) at 14–18, 20. ©2018 by the American Bar Association.  All rights reserved.  This information or any or portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association.

For almost 40 years, state supreme courts and judicial conduct commissions have found sexual misconduct by judges subjects those judges to disciplinary actions for violating the code of judicial conduct.1 In judicial discipline cases, courts have held that, “[a]lthough undoubtedly all forms of behavior that cross the legal threshold of sexual harassment would constitute judicial misconduct, many forms of offensive interpersonal behavior that would violate the Code of Judicial Conduct would not meet the legal definition of sexual harassment.”2

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