What is the process for filing a complaint against a
complaint form from the website, fill it
out as completely as possible, and mail it back to us.
If you have any questions, call the Commission (617-725-8050),
and a staff member will assist you.
Does the Commission require that I use the complaint
No. A letter
naming the judge, detailing the allegations of
misconduct, giving the date[s] of the alleged misconduct
and providing the name and docket number of the case is
Can I attach supporting documents?
documentation can be helpful, although please do not
rely on them alone to state the alleged misconduct. It
is important for you to state as clearly and as briefly
as possible your allegations in the space provided on
the complaint form.
Can I use one complaint form to file complaints against
several judges at once?
No. Please file a
separate complaint form against each of the judges.
What if I am not sure that the judge's conduct
constitutes judicial misconduct?
The Code of Judicial Conduct describes what
constitutes misconduct for Massachusetts judges. If
after reading it, you have any questions, a staff member
at the Commission will answer your questions.
Can I file a complaint against a federal judge with the
Massachusetts Commission on Judicial Conduct?
Massachusetts Commission on Judicial Conduct only has
jurisdiction over Massachusetts state
judges. To file a complaint against a federal judge,
contact the federal court where the judge sits.
Can I file a complaint against a clerk-magistrate with
against clerk-magistrates should be directed to the
Supreme Judicial Court's Committee on Professional
Responsibility for Clerks of the Court, John Adams
Courthouse, One Pemberton Square, Boston, MA 02108.
Must the judge disqualify himself or herself from my
case if I file a complaint?
No. Filing a
complaint has no bearing on whether or not the judge
continues hearing your case.
Will the judge know that I filed a complaint?
Yes. If the Commission investigates your complaint,
the judge is given notice of the complaint and an
opportunity to respond to the allegations you made. In
very limited circumstances, where there is a substantial
danger of reprisal or retaliation by the judge against a
complainant or any other person mentioned in the
complaint, the Commissioners may decide to withhold
notice to the judge of the complaint until the risk of
The judge's decision was wrong. Can I
change it or get it overturned by filing a complaint?
No. Nothing the
Commission can do will affect the decision in your case.
The Commission is not a court and has no authority to
grant relief to litigants. Commission proceedings are
not a substitute for an appeal. The Commission cannot
advise you about this, or give you any other legal
advice. You may wish to consult an attorney to review
your right to appeal the decision in your case.
What can the Commission do if it finds
that judicial misconduct occurred?
disciplines judges who have committed judicial
misconduct in the following ways. First, the Commission
may issue Formal Charges against a judge and proceed to
a public hearing. If, after the hearing, a majority of
the members of the Commission agree that the judge
should be disciplined, the Commission may recommend to
the Supreme Judicial Court the following sanctions:
(2) imposition of discipline as an
(3) imposition of limitations or
conditions on the performance of judicial duties;
(4) public or private reprimand or
(5) imposition of a fine;
(6) assessment of costs and expenses;
(7) imposition of any other sanction
which is reasonable and lawful.
Second, the Commission may discipline a judge by
informally resolving the complaint with the judge. With
the consent of the judge, the Commission may by informal
adjustment dispose of a complaint at any stage of the
(1) informing or admonishing the judge that the conduct
in question is or may be cause for discipline;
(2) directing professional counseling
and assistance for the judge;
(3) imposing conditions on the
judge's conduct; or
(4) persuading a judge to retire
Third, the Commission, with the consent of the judge,
may also issue a private reprimand. The judge may
consent to make the reprimand public.
Will I hear further from the
Yes. The Commission is required to inform complainants
of the disposition of their complaints.
How long do I have to file a
A complaint should be filed within one year of the
occurrence of the alleged misconduct. If it is longer
than that, you should explain why on your complaint.
Is there any use in having more than
one person file a complaint about the same alleged
Allegations of judicial misconduct will be investigated
in the same manner whether one person or 100 make them.
All that matters is that the allegations be made once,
clearly and fully. (If more than one person actually
witnessed the misconduct, be sure to tell us the names
of all witnesses and how we can reach them.)