Judicial misconduct is probably something you’ve never heard of before; it might even be something you aren’t aware of because it’s never happened to you. Unfortunately, it does happen and it is a real thing. Over the years more and more people with authority have become, how shall we say, corrupt. It’s a sad thing if you think about it because these are people that citizens rely on to keep safe. It’s not a super common thing, but it does happen in real life. Essentially Judicial Misconduct is just a fancy term for a judge that has acted in a way that is either unethical. It can also pertain to a judge that abuses his or her power. There are quite a few examples of these things happening over the past few years, but this has also happened in the past as well, especially when the mob was really up and about. There are quite a few different ways a judge can commit Judicial Misconduct, which we will be going over below, as well as what is expected from a judge and where to report it at.
Examples of Judicial Misconduct
Really, this is a far and wide type of situation because there have been and will continue to be certain situations in which this has happened. So instead of writing a huge book, I’ll give you a few definitive examples, as well as real life examples so you can get a better idea of what this is all about. General examples:
- Taking bribes to judge a certain way i.e.; make it more difficult for the charged party or the other innocent parties. This includes taking money outright, or being given benefits like a new car, house, tickets to an event, etc.
- Improperly discussing a case i.e.; any cases should only be talked about in the courtroom, or amongst other parties involved in the situation. If a judge is talking about an ongoing case to someone else, someone outside the case, this could be construed as Judicial Misconduct.
- Being hostile or violent towards certain people of a court trial.
If a judge is accused of misconduct, the judge will be investigated and only then can a punishment or penalty be given. Obviously this various country by country. In some countries they might not even investigate and will instead waive the judge’s rights and just fire him on the spot – or worse.
A judge is essentially a median. They are expected to follow certain laws, and to be impartial. This is a really powerful position to have so it takes someone level headed and grounded. Most of the countries where judges preside have a judicial system or set of laws as to how a judge is supposed to act or behave; in the United States this is called the American Bar Associations Model Code of Judicial Conduct in the United States.
Where to Report Judicial Misconduct
The Executive Branch
Below you will find links to agencies that handle complaints against specific categories of executive branch employees.
In most cases, the Inspector General (IG) of the department or agency involved investigates alleged misconduct.
For a list of agency IGs, please visit the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE).
When necessary, the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the Department of Justice may investigate alleged misconduct of federal employees.
Department of Justice attorneys accused of engaging in misconduct in connection with their duties to investigate, litigate, or provide legal advice
The Office of Professional Responsibility has jurisdiction to investigate these allegations, as well as related allegations of misconduct by law enforcement personnel. (The Department of Justice Inspector General (IG) also has jurisdiction to investigate certain allegations of employee misconduct. The Department of Justice IG hotline is: 1-800-869-4499)
Assistant U.S. Attorneys and U.S. Attorneys accused of other offenses
Legal Counsel’s Office
Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys (EOUSA)
Bicentennial Bldg., Room 2200
600 E. Street, NW
Washington, DC 20530
Federal prison wardens or other Bureau of Prisons employees
Office of Internal Affairs
Bureau of Prisons
320 First Street, NW, Room 600
Washington, DC 20534
The Judicial Branch
Complaints against U.S. District judges should be referred to the Clerk of the United States Court of Appeals in the Circuit in which that judge presides. For more information, contact the Administrative Office for U.S. Courts.
The Legislative Branch
For information on how to report misconduct of a Senator or Representative, contact the respective committee:
Senate Select Committee on Ethics
For information on how to report misconduct of a Representative, contact one of the following entities:
- Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE)
- House Committee on Ethics
State or Local Governments
Many state and local governments have commissions or agencies that oversee the conduct of state or local employees. Many of these commissions will take and review complaints against state or local employees. The following organizations may provide contact information:
- The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) listing of State Ethics Oversight Agencies
- The Council on Governmental Ethics Laws (COGEL)
Complaints against state judges should be made to a judicial conduct organization for the state in which the judge presides. For list of judicial conduct organizations by state, refer to Judicial Conduct Organizations.