The Commission on Judicial Conduct (CJC) is the state agency responsible for investigating complaints alleging that a state court judge has engaged in judicial misconduct or has a disability preventing him or her from properly performing judicial duties.
The CJC is also responsible for pursuing, when it is appropriate, remedial action or discipline against state court judges.
Role of the CJC
- Preserve both judicial independence and public accountability
- Provide a fair and reasonable process to address judicial misconduct and disability
- Maintain the public's confidence in the integrity of the judicial system
All fifty states and the District of Columbia have judicial conduct agencies to investigate allegations of judicial misconduct and disability that prevent judges from properly performing their judicial duties.
Limits of the CJC
The Commission on Judicial Conduct:
- Does not serve as an appellate court to review judges' rulings
- Cannot reverse judge's decision
- Cannot vacate a judge's decision
- Does not have the authority to order a judge to step down from hearing a case
- Does not have the authority to provide a complainant with a different judge
When to contact the CJC
Misconduct by a judge is largely defined by the Massachusetts Code of Judicial Conduct, also known as Supreme Judicial Court Rule 3:09. Judicial misconduct under this Code can include (but is not limited to) a judge creating an appearance of bias, treating a party discourteously, failing to give all interested parties a full opportunity to make their arguments, or failing to make a decision in a prompt, efficient, and fair manner.
The CJC also has jurisdiction to investigate allegations that a judge has a physical or mental disability which affects the judge's performance.
If you believe that a judge has a disability affecting his or her performance or has violated one or more of the Canons of the Code of Judicial Conduct, it is appropriate to file a complaint with the CJC. Please describe as specifically as possible what the judge did or said that causes you to believe he or she has a disability or has committed misconduct.
If someone wishes to file a complaint but fears reprisal or simply wishes to keep his or her name out of the complaint, the CJC's rules permit a complaint to be filed anonymously.
Please note that a judge is not required to recuse himself or herself from a particular matter merely because a party involved in that matter has filed a complaint with the CJC.