A California judicial commission that’s operated in secrecy for more than five and a half decades is engaged in a legal battle to thwart an audit ordered by state legislators and Judicial Watch has filed a court brief supporting the long overdue probe in the name of transparency. A court hearing has been rescheduled three times and shuffled around to different judges, with the latest scheduled for August 17 before Judge Suzanne Bolanos in San Francisco Superior Court. The case sheds much-needed light on the unbelievable history of a taxpayer-funded agency that’s conducted its business in private—and with no oversight—for 56 years, even though protecting the public is among its key duties. The agency is known as Commission on Judicial Performance (CJP) and it’s charged with enforcing rigorous standards of judicial conduct and disciplining judges in the nation’s largest court system.
California’s court system serves over 37 million people and has more than double the judges (1,882) of the federal judicial system, which has 840. The CJP should serve as a tool to keep the system in check. Instead the commission has dismissed 90% of complaints about judges in the last decade, according to figures published in a California newspaper. Only 3.4% ended in disciplinary action and less than 1% led to public censure. None of the decisions were transparent, the news story reveals, and critics have demanded accountability for CJP for years, asserting that the commission gives “biased and inept judges a pass.” In its 2016 annual report, CJP discloses that 1,079 of the 1,210 complaints it received were dismissed after “initial review.” Discipline was issued in only 45 cases with more than half of the offenders receiving an “advisory letter.” Eleven others received “private admonishment,” six got “public admonishment” and eight “public discipline.” Only one judge was removed from office and another received public censure. Offenses included on-bench abuse of authority, administrative malfeasance, bias or appearance of bias and improper political activities.
Last year, a California legislative committee authorized State Auditor Elaine Howle to conduct the first-ever examination into the CJP, including whether the commission upholds due process when considering allegations against judges and how investigators determine which complaints to dismiss. Lawmakers finally acted after mounting pressure from a variety of sources, including Court Reform LLC, a group that pushes for fair and transparent courts that’s found CJP is “ineffective at enforcing judicial discipline, wastes public money and is too secretive about its operations.” An in-depth probe conducted by the group compares the data and policies of judicial disciplinary commissions in California and three other states and finds that the CJP is “under-investigating and under-disciplining judicial misconduct and misappropriating public funds.” It calls for the state auditor to investigate. Howle is appointed by the governor and her office functions as an independent external auditor that provides nonpartisan, accurate and timely assessments of California government’s financial and operational activities.
The Minnesota Board on Judicial Standards
The Board on Judicial Standards is an independent state agency (meaning no outside oversight) that responds to complaints about Minnesota state court judges for violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct. If it is determined that a judge violated the Code, the judge may be disciplined by the Board or by the Minnesota Supreme Court. The Board also handles judicial disability matters, issues advisory opinions, and seeks to educate judges and others about judicial ethics.
Board Elects New Officers for 2017-2018
On December 16, 2016 the Board elected the following officers to two-year terms beginning January 1, 2017:
Chair: Timothy Gephart (public member)
Vice-Chair: Judge David L. Knutson (See complaint against Judge Knutson and the BJS boilerplate response below)
The Board also selected attorney Cindy K. Telstad as the third member of the Board’s Executive Committee.
Brief bios of the Board members are available here.
The Board has ten members: one judge from the Court of Appeals, three district court judges, two lawyers, and four citizens who are not judges or lawyers. All members are appointed by the Governor and, except for the judges, require confirmation by the Senate. The Board is supported by an Executive Secretary, a Staff Attorney, and an Executive Assistant. The Board on Judicial Standards supports the statewide outcome of efficient and accountable government services.
The General Fund is the state government’s main operating fund with the majority of funds coming from state taxes.
The Minnesota Constitution authorizes the Legislature to “provide for the retirement, removal, or other discipline of any judge who is disabled, incompetent, or guilty of conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.” Minn. Const. Art. 6, Sec. 9.
Minn. Const. Art. 8, Sec. 2 Officers subject to impeachment; grounds; judgment. “The governor, secretary of state, auditor, attorney general and the judges of the supreme court, court of appeals and district courts may be impeached for corrupt conduct in office or for crimes and misdemeanors.”
The Minnesota Legislature just set up “figure head” enforcement agencies to give the “illusion of oversight, law and order” (Simulated Justice) to the general public. The Minnesota Legislature rendered the agencies powerless to do anything about Citizen Complaints and Minnesota Governmental unit transgressions. Our Tyrannical Government counted on most citizens not having the financial resources nor knowledge to follow through on forcing their complaints and/or issues from being addressed and resolved. And for anyone who would dare press the complaints and issues beyond the initial “status quo guardians”, demonization, discrediting and economic retaliation are used to neutralize these voices of discontent and dissent. Don Mashak~ Political Google Site