begin in the preliminary investigative stage and may be submitted
by any organization, association or person, including a member of
the Commission. An investigative officer makes a prompt, discreet
preliminary investigation and recommends to the Commission whether
to proceed to the second stage. The complaint and additional information
are sent to each Commission member for review before the Commission
meets. After initial review and evaluation, the Commission may dismiss
the complaint, continue investigation, or commence initial proceedings.
At any time, the Commission may retain disciplinary counsel to assist
in the proceeding.
Stage II - Initial Proceedings
If the Commission moves the matter
to initial proceedings, the Commission notifies and provides the judge
an opportunity to respond to the allegations. The Commission may dismiss
the complaint if there are no sufficient grounds for further proceedings.
At any time prior to final disposition,
a matter may be resolved with a stipulation entered into in a public
proceeding. The stipulation may impose any terms and conditions deemed
appropriate by the Commission. A stipulation includes all material
facts relating to the proceeding and the conduct of the judge.
If the Commission determines there
is probable cause to believe that the judge has violated a rule of
judicial conduct or is suffering from a disability that seriously
interferes with the performance of judicial duties, it orders filing
of a statement of charges.
Stage III - Statement of Charges
and Fact-Finding Hearing
The statement of charges is approved
by the Commission. The statement of charges is public after the judge
has been served. The judge has 21 days to file an answer.
A fact-finding hearing is scheduled
before the Commission after the answer is filed. The Commission members
scheduled to participate in the fact-finding hearing receive no further
factual information until the hearing is held or approval of a stipulation
is sought. The judge has the opportunity to appear with or without
counsel to defend against the charges. The fact-finding hearing is
Stage IV - Decision and Appeal
At the conclusion of all formal
proceedings, the Commission announces its decision in a public session.
The Commission has the authority to dismiss the charges, or to admonish,
reprimand or censure the judge. The Commission may also recommend
the supreme court suspend or remove the judge. The Commission may
recommend the supreme court retire a judge suffering from a disability.
If the Commission decides to reprimand or censure a judge, the judge
is required to appear personally before the Commission.
Within 30 days after the Commission
admonishes, reprimands or censures a judge, the judge may file an
appeal de novo to the supreme court. If the Commission recommends
removal, the judge is suspended pending a final determination by the