Review of Sanctions Would Benefit Judicial Disciplinary System
The current judicial system created by the 1993 amendments to the Pennsylvania Constitution has been working fairly well. The Judicial Conduct Board was created under Article 5, Section 18 of the Pennsylvania Constitution as was the Court of Judicial Discipline. Rules of Procedure for both the Judicial Conduct Board and the Court of Judicial Discipline have been promulgated.
In the last several years, the Judicial Conduct Board has been given some additional funding and hired several additional lawyers and investigators. These were well needed because of the ever-growing number of complaints made against judges in Pennsylvania. It should be pointed out there are ultimately very few complaints of substance. Approximately 90 to 95 percent of all complaints are dismissed as having no merit.
Of course, every system can be made better. One of the frustrations in dealing with the Judicial Conduct Board is the inability to be able to present in person the judge's version to the Judicial Conduct Board. After letters are sent and depositions, only the counsel for the Judicial Conduct Board meets with the board and then decisions are made as to the nature of discipline. In all the years I have practiced before the board, there's only one case where the Judicial Conduct Board invited him to present his case to the board. ...