There shall be a commission on judicial conduct, existing as an independent agency of the judicial branch, and consisting of a judge selected by and from the court of appeals judges, a judge selected by and from the superior court judges, a judge selected by and from the limited jurisdiction court judges, two persons admitted to the practice of law in this state selected by the state bar association, and six persons who are not attorneys appointed by the governor.
Whenever the commission receives a complaint against a judge or justice, or otherwise has reason to believe that a judge or justice should be admonished, reprimanded, censured, suspended, removed, or retired, the commission shall first investigate the complaint or belief and then conduct initial proceedings for the purpose of determining whether probable cause exists for conducting a public hearing or hearings to deal with the complaint or belief. The investigation and initial proceedings shall be confidential. Upon beginning an initial proceeding, the commission shall notify the judge or justice of the existence of and basis for the initial proceeding.
Whenever the commission concludes, based on an initial proceeding, that there is probable cause to believe that a judge or justice has violated a rule of judicial conduct or that the judge or justice suffers from a disability which is permanent or likely to become permanent and which seriously interferes with the performance of judicial duties, the commission shall conduct a public hearing or hearings and shall make public all those records of the initial proceeding that provide the basis for its conclusion. If the commission concludes that there is not probable cause, it shall notify the judge or justice of its conclusion.
Upon the completion of the hearing or hearings, the commission in open session shall either dismiss the case, or shall admonish, reprimand, or censure the judge or justice, or shall censure the judge or justice and recommend to the supreme court the suspension or removal of the judge or justice, or shall recommend to the supreme court the retirement of the judge or justice. The commission may not recommend suspension or removal unless it censures the judge or justice for the violation serving as the basis for the recommendation. The commission may recommend retirement of a judge or justice for a disability which is permanent or likely to become permanent and which seriously interferes with the performance of judicial duties.
Upon the recommendation of the commission, the supreme court may suspend, remove or retire a judge or justice. The office of a judge or justice retired or removed by the supreme court becomes vacant, and that person is ineligible for judicial office until eligibility is reinstated by the supreme court. The salary of a removed judge or justice shall cease. The supreme court shall specify the effect upon salary when it suspends a judge or justice. The supreme court may not suspend, remove, or retire a judge or justice until the commission, after notice and hearing, recommends that action be taken, and the supreme court conducts a hearing, after notice, to review commission proceedings and findings against the judge or justice.
Within thirty days after the commission admonishes, reprimands, or censures a judge or justice, the judge or justice shall have a right of appeal de novo to the supreme court.
Any matter before the commission or supreme court may be disposed of by a stipulation entered into in a public proceeding. The stipulation shall be signed by the judge or justice and the commission or court. The stipulation may impose any terms and conditions deemed appropriate by the commission or court. A stipulation shall set forth all material facts relating to the proceeding and the conduct of the judge or justice.
Whenever the commission adopts a recommendation that a judge or justice be removed, the judge or justice shall be suspended immediately, with salary, from his or her judicial position until a final determination is made by the supreme court.
The legislature shall provide for commissioners' terms of office and compensation. The commission shall employ one or more investigative officers with appropriate professional training and experience. The investigative officers of the commission shall report directly to the commission. The commission shall also employ such administrative or other staff as are necessary to manage the affairs of the commission.
The commission shall, to the extent that compliance does not conflict with this section, comply with laws of general applicability to state agencies with respect to rule-making procedures, and with respect to public notice of and attendance at commission proceedings other than initial proceedings. The commission shall establish rules of procedure for commission proceedings including due process and confidentiality of proceedings.