State audit finds lax oversight fosters judicial misconduct

April 29, 2019

An audit of California’s judicial performance agency found that weaknesses in its oversight have created opportunities for judicial misconduct to persist, according to the audit.

On Thursday, California State Auditor Elaine M. Howle released a report on flaws in the Commission on Judicial Performance’s (CJP) investigative process. CJP is tasked with protecting the public, enforcing standards of judicial conduct, and maintaining public confidence in the judicial system.

CJP investigates complaints about judicial misconduct and disciplines judges who engage in misconduct.

Key findings

After reviewing 30 investigations, the auditor determined CJP’s investigative processes are flawed.

1. Investigators did not thoroughly investigate over one‑third of investigation requests to determine the existence or extent of alleged misconduct even though they involved serious allegations.

2. Investigators did not prepare a preliminary investigation plan with planned objectives and timelines in any of the 30 investigations reviewed.

3. Investigators failed to identify patterns of complaints and initiate investigations when numerous complainants alleged the same misconduct against a judge. In one case, a judge who was the subject of many serious complaints about on‑the‑bench misconduct avoided discipline for years.

The CLP’s organizational structure does not align with judicial discipline, best practices, or the intent of California’s voters.

1. Commissioners are involved in both investigatory and disciplinary functions.

2. Instead of hearing cases itself, the commission delegates a significant portion of CJP’s disciplinary proceedings to a panel of judges who review evidence and reach conclusions about other judges’ misconduct.

3. CJP lacks clear authority to require corrective actions that might reduce judicial misconduct.

CJP has failed to improve its transparency and modernize its operations.

1. CJP has not adequately informed the public of its role in the judicial system, it only accepts complaints through the mail, and its website needs more information about the complaint process.

2. CJP does not hold public meetings.

3. CJP’s case management system is outdated and does not have the technical capabilities necessary to improve its investigation processes.

Key recommendations

1. The Legislature should propose an amendment to the California Constitution to reform CJP’s structure and disciplinary proceedings to ensure the public has a significant role in deciding judicial discipline.

2. The legislature should provide CJP a one‑time budget increase to ensure it makes critical improvements to effectively investigate complaints and discipline judges for misconduct.

3. The CJP should implement safeguards, such as requiring investigation strategies and management reviews, to ensure it adequately investigates alleged judicial misconduct.

4. The CjP should require investigators to review all prior complaints to identify patterns that may indicate chronic judicial misconduct.

5. The CJP should improve public outreach, accept online complaints, and hold public meetings.

Types of judicial misconduct

The CJP investigates types of judicial misconduct including: bias or the appearance of bias, abuse of authority, failing to disclose a conflict of interest, improper communication about a case, improper political activities, and substance or alcohol abuse.


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AmericaTheFree

While the majority here will bitch about this they are also the ones who demand LESS oversight by our government. They demand that agencies like the EPA, Department of Education, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Government Accountability Office (formerly General Accounting Office) etc., etc., etc. give up most, if not all, of their regulatory and oversight powers and instead rely on those they are meant to regulate and oversee be self regulating, and that approach has been pretty much an abysmal failure.

All I’m sayin’ is you have the right to be upset over this; it should be of grave concern to every citizen that our justice system is rife with bullchit misconduct, and outright criminal activity, but you can’t have it both ways! You can’t bitch about this and then ignore the fact that oversight is needed on every level as humans often prove to be corruptible, especially over money, influence and power, causing grief amongst the masses while just a few benefit.

As I’ve said before it’s time for a over hall of our justice system to one less complicated, less time consuming, less of an “ol’ boy” network and less expensive.

Cheers!


Rambunctious

One party rule corrupts everything….


DocT

Dems/Reps make up the one party…..the party of government.


The rest of us exist to serve them. We’re the ones who make the party possible.


Voting for (R) or (D) keeps the party going……


rukidding

Just another example of the double standards that exist within the Judicial system. And here it is right at the very top.


DocT

It’s not going to change either. The people who require the double standards have already paid for them via campaign contributions and other forms of bribery. Legislators will make sure that any laws their staff’s might write will be thoroughly approved by the “double standard” folks so that no one loses their special privileges.