- Massachusetts Commission on Judicial Conduct
Media Contact for Housing Court Judge Reprimanded by Supreme Judicial Court
Howard Neff, Executive Director
Boston, MA — By the attached December 22, 2022 Order, the Supreme Judicial Court has publicly reprimanded Housing Court Judge Joseph L. Michaud for violating the Massachusetts Code of Judicial Conduct (SJC Rule 3:09) and for engaging in judicial misconduct that brought the judicial office into disrepute, that was prejudicial to the administration of justice, and that was unbecoming of a judicial officer, in violation of M.G.L. c. 211C, sec. 2(5)(d).
The Supreme Judicial Court issued the attached Order upon consideration of a Final Submission Upon Agreed Facts (Final Submission) filed by the Commission and Judge Michaud, pursuant to M.G.L. c. 211C and Rule 13(A) of the Rules of the Commission on Judicial Conduct. The Final Submission included a stipulation of facts that described Judge Michaud’s social media activity using his now-deleted Facebook account, on dates leading to and following the November 3, 2020 Presidential election. Judge Michaud’s social media posts related to political figures, political events, and politicized public events. In its Order, the Court adopted the Commission’s recommendation that Judge Michaud be publicly reprimanded for that social media activity. The Court wrote:
“The Court accepts the recommendation of the Commission that the Judge be publicly reprimanded for his misconduct. Public confidence in the judiciary is undermined when a judge’s social media activity casts reasonable doubt on the judge’s capacity to act impartially even if the judge is in fact impartial. The Judge has acknowledged that he erred by sharing these types of posts that undermine public confidence in the judiciary. Contrary to the Judge’s belief that the postings were only visible to his Facebook ‘friends’, the postings, relating to political figures, political events, and politicized public events, were publicly visible.
“Accordingly, Judge Joseph L. Michaud is hereby publicly reprimanded for the conduct described in the Stipulation of Facts, namely, his making posts on social media that expressed views on political candidates, political figures and issues, and posts that could create the appearance of bias based on gender, ethnicity, or immigration status.”
In its Order, the Court also accepted the parties’ stipulation that, through the conduct described in the Final Submission, Judge Michaud violated the Code of Judicial Conduct by failing to act, at all times, in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and/or impartiality of the judiciary, in violation of Rule 1.2; by conveying, or permitting others to convey, the impression that any person or organization was in a position to influence him, in violation of Rule 2.4(C); by failing to refrain from participating in activities that are reasonably likely to lead to his recurrent disqualification, in violation of Rule 3.1(B); by failing to refrain from participating in an extrajudicial activity that would appear to a reasonable person to undermine his independence, integrity, or impartiality, in violation of Rule 3.1(C); and by publicly endorsing or opposing candidates for public office, in violation of Rule 4.1(A)(3).
This matter was docketed by the Court as In the matter of a Judge, SJC No. OE-150. On February 3, 2023, the Court ordered that a redacted copy of the Final Submission be made available to the public today, February 10, 2023.
The Commission’s statute and Rules are available on the Commission’s website: www.mass.gov/cjc.