Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct Frequently Asked Questions
1. If the Committee decides not to pursue my complaint, will it advise me what I should do instead?
The Committee decides only if a judge should be disciplined. It cannot provide legal advice or other advice of any sort.
2. How long will it take before I know what the Committee has decided?
That depends on when the complaint is received relative to a meeting, on what the Committee decides to do regarding investigation, and on whether the Committee decides to consolidate a complaint with other complaints of the same sort about the same judge. If the Committee decides not to pursue a complaint, the grievant will be informed in writing of that decision. If the Committee decides to pursue a matter, the grievant will be notified if the Committee needs further information from him or her or if an appearance is required at a hearing. The Committee does not provide updates, but every grievant is notified of the Committee’s eventual decision in a matter.
3. I believe that I am not receiving fair treatment from the judge who is presiding over my case. Doesn’t the judge have to step down now that I have filed a complaint?
No. Rule 2:15-24 specifically provides that the making of a complaint about a judge does not require that judge’s recusal.
4. I don't understand exactly what judicial misconduct is. Please explain.
Judicial misconduct is behavior by a judge that violates the Code of Judicial Conduct, as determined by the ACJC and the Supreme Court. It includes a wide range of conduct, from improper language in the courtroom and simple discourtesy all the way up to bribery. There is no simple listing of all the kinds of behaviors that constitute judicial misconduct. That is why it is essential that a person making a complaint about a judge be as specific as possible because all these matters are fact-sensitive.
5. I want my complaint to be confidential because I do not want the judge to retaliate against me. Is this possible?
All complaints are confidential up to the point when the Committee issues, if it does, a formal complaint against the judge, triggering a public hearing. At that point, the identity of the grievant would become known to the judge. In addition, if the Committee has to ask the judge for a response before the point when a formal complaint becomes necessary, the judge would become aware of the grievant's identity at that point. If the Committee contacts the judge with regard to a complaint, it must reveal the identity of the grievant. However, judges are not routinely made aware of complaints, so the identity would become known only if it is necessary for the Committee to obtain the judge's response to the complaint.
6. The judge is violating my rights. Surely, that must be misconduct.
The Committee does not decide questions of law, and violation of rights involves issues of law. The Committee deals with the behavior of judges, not with their decision-making.
7. The judge is violating the Constitution and federal law in my case. I want that to stop.
Once again, the Committee does not decide questions of law. If a judge makes decisions that a person thinks violates the law, the proper recourse is the appellate process. The Committee does not determine whether a judge's decisions were wrong under the law or the facts of a particular case because that is within the province of the appellate courts.