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August 13, 2018

Model Rules for Judicial Disciplinary Enforcement

Section II. General Provisions
Rule 13. Service

Service upon the judge of formal charges in any disciplinary or incapacity proceeding or of notice that a complaint has been received shall be made by personal service upon the judge or judge's counsel by any person authorized by the chair of the commission or by registered or certified mail to [the judge's address of record]. Delivery of all other papers or notices shall be made in accordance with {jurisdiction's rules of civil procedure}.


Service may be completed by a variety of means including: personal service upon the judge, or, with the judge's consent, upon the judge's counsel, or registered or certified mail to the judge at the judge's address of record. Because of geographical limitations, personal service may be difficult and expensive. Moreover, it is awkward and difficult to serve a judge personally, and with current security concerns, the process server may have great difficulty effectuating personal service. If a jurisdiction finds that these limitations are not applicable in its state, it may choose to require personal service. The best way to ensure confidentiality and prompt service is to advise the judge's attorney who, in return, will obtain the judge's consent to accept service on the judge's behalf.

Disciplinary counsel will probably consider different methods of service for different purposes. A letter to the judge disclosing that an investigative panel has authorized a full investigation may be mailed by certified or registered mail, while the service of formal charges may be accomplished by serving the judge's lawyer on the lawyer's assurance that he or she has authority to accept service. Usually, the judge is relieved not to have to accept personal service.