“A wholly effective system with no transparency and no public confidence will not suffice,” said a recent report on judicial discipline from the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System.
The report, “Recommendations for Judicial Discipline Systems,” serves as a guide for how the 51 judicial discipline commissions across the U.S. can be structured and what their best practices can look like.
The commissions the report addresses were first imagined in the 1960s as a reaction to scandals in state judiciaries. Before the commissions’ creation, there were few formal methods for handling a judge’s misconduct, let alone any that were efficient or well designed.
IAALS’ mission has focused on general issues of accountability for the judiciary. After reports on nominating commissions, judicial selection and judicial performance evaluations — a process it created and is now used in 17 states and the District of Columbia — the organization wanted to look at the default process of how an errant judge is removed from their position.