Judicial Conduct Commission
The Judicial Conduct Commission was established in 1975 to receive, investigate, and evaluate complaints against any judges or officer of the judicial system in this state and, when necessary, conduct hearings concerning the discipline, removal, or retirement of any judge.
The procedures of the Commission are set forth in the North Dakota Rules of the Judicial Conduct Commission. Significant procedural changes, effective August 1, 1997, include evaluation of the complaint and summary dismissal by Disciplinary Counsel, after providing an opportunity for Commission members to request further consideration. An admonition (formerly a private censure) now requires the consent of the judge. Complaints are now filed with Disciplinary Counsel for the Commission, with the Clerk of the Supreme Court relieved of all ex officio administrative duties for the Commission. As before, the Supreme Court must take final action on public censure, removal, suspension, retirement, or other public discipline against a judge.
The number of complaints against judges in 2002 was down by four from those filed in 2001. The plurality were dismissed as being without merit because complainants frequently believe the Commission has the authority to change a judge's decision or influence trial proceedings in some way.
The table, which follows, includes a summary of the nature and the disposition of complaints filed with the Judicial Conduct Commission in 2002.
|General Nature of Complaints:|
Abuse of authority/prestige
Failure to disqualify
Failure to perform duties
Improper conduct on bench
Incompetence as judge
Reputation of judicial office
|Complaint Files Carried Over from 2001||13|
|Total Files Pending Consideration in 2002||55|
|Disposition of Complaints:|
Dismissed because of resignation
Admonition by the Judicial Conduct Commission
Censure by the Supreme Court
| 37 2|
|Total 2002 Dispositions||42|
|Complaint Files Pending as of 12/31/02||13|