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August 13, 2018

Model Rules for Judicial Disciplinary Enforcement


To promote effective disciplinary enforcement in this state and among jurisdictions, the uniform terminology set forth below shall be used.

Commission Counsel: the lawyer drafting reports, providing legal advice to the commission and performing other duties assigned by the commission. See Rule 5.

Complaint: information in any form from any source received by the commission that alleges or from which a reasonable inference can be drawn that a judge committed misconduct or is incapacitated. If there is no written complaint from another person, disciplinary counsel's written statement of the allegations constitutes the complaint.

Deferred Discipline Agreement: a confidential agreement between the judge and an investigative panel of the commission for the judge to undergo treatment, participate in education programs or take other corrective action. It is only available as a response to misconduct that is minor and can be addressed through treatment or a rehabilitation program. A deferred discipline agreement can only be entered into prior to the filing and service of formal charges.

Disciplinary Counsel: the lawyer in charge of screening and investigating complaints, prosecuting formal charges and performing other duties assigned by the commission. See Rule 4. Formal Charges: the document that charges the judge with specific acts of misconduct or with a specific incapacity.

Hearing Panel: the panel of the commission that conducts hearings on formal charges. See Rule 3.

Hearing: the public proceeding at which the issues of law and fact raised by the formal charges and answer are tried. See Rule 24.

Highest Court: the highest court of the jurisdiction.

Incapacity: a mental or physical condition that adversely affects a judge's ability to perform judicial functions. Incapacity is distinguished from a disability that does not adversely affect a judge's performance of judicial functions.

Incapacity Inactive Status: non-disciplinary involuntary retirement or removal of a judge from judicial office, with or without pay or retirement benefits, because of mental or physical inability to perform judicial functions.

Interim Suspension: temporary removal from office pending a final determination in any proceeding under these rules. See Rule 15.

Investigation: an inquiry into allegations of misconduct, including a search for and examination of evidence concerning the allegations, divided into two stages: a preliminary investigation conducted by disciplinary counsel after the receipt of a complaint and a full investigation conducted after approval by an investigative panel of the commission. See Rule 17.

Investigative Panel: the panel of the commission that determines whether full investigations will be conducted and whether formal charges will be filed. See Rule 3.

Judge: anyone, whether or not a lawyer, who is an officer of a judicial system, and who is eligible to perform judicial functions, including an officer such as a magistrate, court commissioner, special master or referee, is a judge within the meaning of these Rules.

Misconduct: any conduct by a judge constituting grounds for discipline. See Rule 6.A.

Private Admonition: a non-public sanction imposed on a judge by an investigative panel of the commission with the consent of the judge. See Rule 6.B(6). A private admonition cannot be imposed after the filing and service of formal charges. Only in cases of minor misconduct, when there is little or no injury to the public, the legal system or the profession, should a private admonition be imposed.

Proceedings: all steps in the discipline and incapacity system set forth in these rules.

Public Members: members of the commission who are neither lawyers nor judges.

Public Reprimand: a reprimand by the highest court in the form of a written decision which shall be imposed in person or served upon the respondent by certified mail.

Reasonable Cause: a reasonable ground for belief in the existence of facts warranting the filing of formal charges for discipline or a petition for transfer to incapacity inactive status.

Record: all documents filed in the case beginning with the formal charges. The record includes a transcript of the hearing on the formal charges only if a transcript is requested by the respondent, disciplinary counsel or a member of the hearing panel, commission or highest court.

Respondent: a judge or former judge against whom formal charges have been filed.

Screening: examination of a complaint or other information coming to the attention of disciplinary counsel to determine whether the commission has jurisdiction. See Rule 17.