Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Revised Rules Governing the Processing of Judicial Misconduct Complaints

Will Not Stop Judges From Systematically Dismissing Them

Now judges judging judges can suspend or modify their application and not disclose
information even to a prosecutor or agrand jury!

By, Dr. Richard Cordero, Esq.

The Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability
announced its Revised Rules for implementing the
Judicial Conduct and Disability Act as well as its
readiness to submit them for adoption to the highest
policy-making body of the Federal Judiciary, the
Judicial Conference of the U.S., whose presiding
officer is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and
whose other 26 members are the chief circuit judges
and representative district judges.

The Act allows anybody to file a complaint against a
federal judge on grounds such as the judge's abuse of
judicial power, demeanor –which includes judicially
unbecoming or abusive language or treatment of
others-, prejudice, bias, conflict of interests,
bribery, corruption, undue decisional delay,
incompetence, neglect, and mental or physical
disability that prevents the discharge of all the
duties of office.

Complaints must be filed with the judge's chief
circuit judge, who may appoint a special committee,
all of whose members may be federal judges, to
investigate the complaint and submit a report to the
circuit's judicial council, which is composed of
judges and which in turn may refer it to the
Committee, which is also composed of judges and whose
decision may be reviewed by the Judicial Conference.

This inherently biased system where judges judge other
judges, who are their colleagues and may be their
longtime friends, has been abused by judges to
self-exempt from any discipline. Thus, the official
statistics on their handling of those complaints show
that in the 10-year period 1997-2006 there were filed
7,462 complaints, but judges only set up 7 special
investigative committees and disciplined only 9 of
their peers, thus dismissing systematically 99.88% of
all complaints! (See the graphs illustrating these
statistics at

Members of Congress expressed their dissatisfaction
with the judges' dismissing complaints to protect each
other and in effect abrogating the Act. They
introduced two bills, H.R. 5219 and S. 2678, to enact
the Judicial Transparency and Ethics Enhancement Act,
which would establish the Office of Inspector General
for the Judicial Branch.

To ward off any Congressional supervision, the Late
Chief Justice Rehnquist set up a committee chaired by
Associate Justice Breyer to study the implementation
of the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act; then Chief
Justice Roberts requested that the Judicial Conduct
and Disability Committee revise the current
complaint-processing rules in order to implement the
recommendations of the Breyer Report.

When the Committee released its Draft Rules for public
comment it made its announcement on only one little
known website, held a single public hearing in an out
of the way district court, and did not make public the
comments that it received. Just before the holidays,
on December 21, it released its Revised Rules and
allowed barely two weeks to submit comments, thus
confirming its determination not to subject its Rules
to public scrutiny. The reason for this is obvious
given that its Revised Rules make it even easier for
judges to take care of their own than the Draft Rules
or the current rules that they replace.

Indeed, the Revised Rules now allow chief circuit
judges, special committees, judicial councils, the
Committee, and the Conference to suspend or modify the
rules in any case, thereby making them illusory.

They even strip the Committee's own commentaries on
its Rules of the status as "authoritative
interpretations of the Rules" that they had in the
Draft Rules just as they deprive the Code of Conduct
for United States Judges of any value as a source of
guidance in complaint proceedings.

Moreover, they pretend to authorize special committees
not to disclose some information about an investigated
judge to a prosecutor or grand jury.

The Rules show how federal judges will continue to
protect their exercise of judicial power subject to no
control, that is, absolute power that corrupts
absolutely. How would you like judges who deem
themselves above the law because in practice they can
risklessly engage in any misconduct to dispose of your
rights to your property, your liberty, and even your

Detailed comments on the Revised Rules and links to
them and all other references as well as copies of
many references themselves are found at

Dr. Richard Cordero, Esq.

59 Crescent Street
Brooklyn, NY 11208
tel. (718)827-9521

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