California Commission on Judicial Performance
The California Commission on Judicial Performance is a constitutionally mandated independent judicial disciplinary agency in California. It is responsible for investigating complaints of judicial misconduct and judicial incapacity, as well as for disciplining judges.
Composition of the commission
The commission consists of 11 members: three judges, two lawyers and six members of the public. All members serve four-year terms with a two-term and 10-year limit.
- The judges include one judge of the court of appeals and two judges of the superior courts. All three are appointed by the supreme court.
- The two lawyers must be members of the State Bar of California and have practiced law in the state for 10 years. Both lawyers are appointed by the governor.
- The six members of the public must not be current or former judges or members of the state bar. Two are appointed by the governor, two by the Senate Committee on Rules, and two by the speaker of the assembly.
- Vacancies are filled and appointed by the same authorities for the remainder of individual terms.
In 2011, the commission also had 27 authorized staff positions: 16 attorneys and 11 support staff.
Members of the commission
A current list of the members can be found on the commission's website.
Case flow description
The commission is governed in part by California Government Code, Title 8 (The Organization and Government of Courts), Chapter 2.5 (Commission on Judicial Performance), Articles 1 to 3 (sections 68701 through 68756). Chapter 11 (Judges' retirement law), Article 3 (sections 75060 through 75064), and Chapter 11.5 (Judges' retirement system II), Article 4 (sections 75560 through 75564), dictated the commissions actions when dealing with judicial disability retirement applications.
The specific codes are found here.
In addition, the commission has the responsibility under California Code of Civil Procedure, Title 2 (Judicial Officers), Chapter 3 (Disqualifications of Judge) (Section 170.9) of enforcing restrictions on gifts and honoraria to the judiciary. The specific code is found here.
Rules of the Commission on Judicial Performance
The commission is constitutionally authorized to make its rules for investigations and formal cases. The current rules can be found here.
- Rule 101: Interested Party
- Rule 102: Confidentiality and Disclosure
- Rule 103: Protection from Liability for Statements
- Rule 104: Duty to Cooperate; Response by Respondent Judge
- Rule 105: Medical Examination
- Rule 106: Judge’s Representation by Counsel
- Rule 107: Notice Requirements
- Rule 108: Extensions of Time
- Rule 109: Commencement of Commission Action
- Rule 110: Staff Inquiry; Advisory Letter after Staff Inquiry
- Rule 111: Preliminary Investigation
- Rule 111.5: Correction of Advisory Letter
- Rule 112: Monitoring
- Rule 113: Notice of Intended Private Admonishment
- Rule 114: Private Admonishment Procedure
- Rule 115: Notice of Intended Public Admonishment
- Rule 116: Public Admonishment Procedure
- Rule 116.5: Negotiated Settlement During Preliminary Investigation
- Rule 117: Use and Retention of Commission Records
- Rule 118: Notice of Formal Proceedings
- Rule 119: Answer
- Rule 119.5: Filing with the Commission During Formal Proceedings
- Rule 120: Disqualification
- Rule 120.5: Suspension; Termination of Suspension; Removal of Suspended Judge
- Rule 121: Setting for Hearing Before Commission or Masters
- Rule 122: Discovery Procedures
- Rule 123: Hearing
- Rule 124: Media at Hearing
- Rule 125: Evidence
- Rule 125.5: Exhibits at Hearing
- Rule 126: Procedural Rights of Judge in Formal Proceedings
- Rule 127: Discipline by Consent
- Rule 128: Amendments to Notice or Answer; Dismissals
- Rule 129: Report of Masters
- Rule 130: Briefs to the Commission
- Rule 131: Participation by Non-Parties
- Rule 132: Appearance Before Commission
- Rule 133: Hearing Additional Evidence
- Rule 134: Commission Vote
- Rule 134.5: Rule of Necessity
- Rule 135: Record of Commission Proceedings
- Rule 136: Finality
- Rule 137: Retroactivity
- Rule 138: Definitions
Policy declarations of the Commission on Judicial Performance
The commission has a set of internal policies and procedures regarding its own conduct, which are separated into seven divisions. They can be found here.
- Division I: Complaints and investigations
- Division II: Discipline and formal proceedings
- Division III: Commission administration
- Division IV: Disclosure of information
- Division V: Disability retirement applications
- Division VI: Code of ethics for commission members
- Division VII: Discipline
A database of public decisions and discipline actions from 1961 to present is available on the commission's website.
The following is a table of case decision statistics:
|Year||Complaints Considered||Dispositions||Closed After Initial Review||Closed After Investigation||Advisory Letters||Private Admonishments||Public Admonishments||Public Censure||Removal||Retired or Resigned with Proceedings Pending|
An analysis of the complaints from 1990 to 2009 performed for the commission found some of the following trends:
- Female judges were less frequently sanctioned than male judges.
- Initially elected judges were more frequently sanctioned than initially appointed judges.
- Judges on smaller courts were more frequently sanctioned than judges on larger courts.
- Judges who had previously been sanctioned by commission made up a large share of judges disciplined.
The analysis also found no strong trend with:
- The age of the judge.
- The length of time the judge had been on the bench.
|1960||Proposition 10 amended the California Constitution to provide for the Commission on Judicial Qualifications.|
|1961||The commission began operating.|
|1966||Proposition 1a "simplified and improved" the constitutional language regarding the commission and added censure as an approved method of discipline the supreme court can use.|
|1976||Proposition 7 renamed the commission to the Commission on Judicial Performance. It provided for the removal or retirement of supreme court justices, allowed for the commission to use private admonishment as a method of discipline, and stated "habitual intemperance" and drug use as reasons for discipline.|
|1988||Proposition 92 provided for public hearings and public statements by the commission in certain circumstances. It added public reproval as a method of discipline by the commission. It also imposed term limits on commission members.|
|1994||Proposition 190 made a number of changes to the commission, including requiring open case hearings in all formal charges against judges, giving the authority for censure and removal from the state supreme court to the commission, giving the authority to create governing rules from the Judicial Council to the commission, and increasing the commission membership to 11 members.|
|1996||The commission adopted and began to use its Rules of the Commission on Judicial Performance.|
|1998||Proposition 221 provided shared authority with the superior courts over investigation and discipline of subordinate judicial officers.|
|Fiscal Year||Appropriations||Actual Expenditures|
Code of Judicial Conduct
Below is the summary of the California Code of Judicial Ethics. Full documentation is available at the California Court website.
|Canon 1: A judge shall uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary.|
|Canon 2: A judge shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all of the judge’s activities.|
|Canon 3: A judge shall perform the duties of judicial office impartially and diligently.|
|Canon 4: A judge shall so conduct the judge’s quasi-judicial and extrajudicial activities as to minimize the risk of conflict with judicial obligations.|
|Canon 5: A judge or judicial candidate shall refrain from inappropriate political activity.|
|Canon 6: Compliance with the code of judicial ethics.|
Commission on Judicial Performance
455 Golden Gate Avenue, Suite 14400
San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: (415) 557-1200
Fax: (415) 557-1266
- State of California Commission on Judicial Performance, "Home"
- California State Constitution, "Article VI"
- State of California Commission on Judicial Performance, "Organization & Budget"
- State of California Commission on Judicial Performance, "2011 Annual Report"
- State of California Commission on Judicial Performance, "2006 Annual Report"
- State of California Commission on Judicial Performance, "Governing Provisions"
- State of California Commission on Judicial Performance, "10-Year Summary of Commission Activity"
- State of California Commission on Judicial Performance, "Summary of Discipline Statistics 1990 - 2009"
- State of California Commission on Judicial Performance, "Mandate & Legislative History"
- State of California Commission on Judicial Performance, "2014 Annual Report," accessed April 25, 2015
- State of California Commission on Judicial Performance, "2013 Annual Report," accessed April 25, 2015
- State of California Commission on Judicial Performance, "2012 Annual Report," accessed April 25, 2015
- State of California Commission on Judicial Performance, "2010 Annual Report"
- State of California Commission on Judicial Performance, "2009 Annual Report"
- State of California Commission on Judicial Performance, "2008 Annual Report"
- State of California Commission on Judicial Performance, "2007 Annual Report"
- State of California Commission on Judicial Performance, "2005 Annual Report"
- State of California Commission on Judicial Performance, "2004 Annual Report"
- State of California Commission on Judicial Performance, "2003 Annual Report"
- California Judicial Branch, "California Code of Judicial Ethics"