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NCJ Number: 204346 Find in a Library
Title: Dealing with Judicial Misconduct
Journal: Judicial Review  Volume:6  Issue:3  Dated:September 2003  Pages:241-254
Author(s): J. J. Spigelman
Editor(s): Helen McKenzie
Date Published: September 2003
Page Count: 14
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: Australia
Annotation: In this article, the Chief Justice of New South Wales addresses standards of judicial conduct and mechanisms for dealing with misconduct, primarily in New South Wales and in a number of other jurisdictions including the United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, and the United States.
Abstract: The rule of law requires that laws are administered fairly, rationally, predictably, consistently, and impartially. Judicial misconduct and judicial incompetence are incompatible with these objectives. Hence, the preservation of the rule of law is the basic reason for establishing mechanisms for dealing with judicial misconduct, regardless of the form it takes, such as corruption or less serious forms of misbehavior. In this article, the Chief Justice of New South Wales considers the relevant issues: judicial corruption, standards of conduct, and mechanisms for dealing with judicial misconduct. These issues are addressed as they relate to New South Wales, as well as the United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, and the United States. The article discusses the establishment of the New South Wales Commission, modeling an official body with the function of dealing with complaints about judges. The Commission is based on the Australian Law Reform Commission. Formal procedures or protocol have been established in other jurisdictions. In the United Kingdom informal action may be taken following a preliminary investigation of a complaint or following a more formal investigation. In New Zealand, complaints of substance may result in the head of the court asking the relevant judge to convey an apology to the complainant. In Canada, formal procedures for discipline short of dismissal exist. In the United States, California’s Commission on Judicial Performance has three levels of investigation and can monitor a judge’s conduct for period of up to 2 years. The New South Wales Commission has two functions in addition to hearing complaints. It is responsible for judicial education and responsible for the compilation of statistical and other information on sentencing, bench books, and other legal research material. A complaint that is classified as serious must be the subject of a hearing by a Conduct Division which is made up of a panel of three appointed judicial officers. The Commission has a formal role in the parliamentary process leading to dismissal of a judge under the New South Wales Constitution. However, a report by a Conduct Division must be prepared before the parliamentary processes are instituted. The issue of judicial misconduct poses problems of varying levels of frequency and seriousness in different jurisdictions with jurisdictions instituting their own formal protocol in dealing with judicial misconduct.
Main Term(s): Professional misconduct
Index Term(s): Accountability; Australia; Code of ethics; Judge censure and removal; Judges; Judicial conduct and ethics; Judicial decisions; Judicial discretion; Judicial performance evaluation; New South Wales; Professional conduct and ethics
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