Judicial Conduct Board Matters
Complaints against Judges are handled by the Judicial Conduct Board (hereafter, “The Board.”). If a complaint against a judge proceeds to formal charges after an investigation by the Judicial Conduct Board, the matter is heard by the Court of Judicial Discipline.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What initially happens when a complaint is filed against a judge?
The Board conducts a preliminary inquiry, after which it either dismisses the complaint, or authorizes a full investigation.
What happens if The Board authorizes a full investigation?
The Board will notify the judge of the complaint and that a full investigation has been authorized. The Notice of Full Investigation (i.e., a “NOFI letter”) will set forth the allegations against the judge, and gives the judge 20 days to respond to the allegations.
Can a complaint still be dismissed after a full investigation is authorized?
Yes. Complaints are sometimes dismissed after the judge files a written response to the Notice of Full Investigation and The Board completes its investigation.
What happens if the complaint is not dismissed after a full investigation?
After a full investigation, if the complaint is not dismissed, the matter proceeds to formal charges before the Court of Judicial Discipline.
Is a complaint against a judge confidential?
Yes, unless and until the matter proceeds to formal charges before the Court of Judicial Discipline. Proceedings before the Court of Judicial Discipline are open to the public.
What are the levels of discipline which the Court of Judicial Discipline can impose?
If a complaint is not dismissed following trial before the Court of Judicial Discipline, that Court can reprimand the judge, suspend the judge for a given period of time (with or without pay), or permanently remove the judge from office.
If the Court of Judicial Discipline orders the imposition of discipline, does the judge have a right to appeal?
Yes. The judge may appeal the determination of the Court of Judicial Discipline to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
What rules govern the ethical conduct of judges in Pennsylvania?
All Pennsylvania judges, except for the minor judiciary (i.e., magisterial district judges), are governed by the Code of Judicial Conduct. Magisterial district judges are governed by the Rules Governing Standards of Conduct of Magisterial District Judges.
Other Practice Areas:
- Disciplinary Board Matters
- Client Security Fund Claims
- Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners Matters
- Reinstatement Proceedings
- Ethics Advice/Consultation
If you have been contacted by the Disciplinary Board, the Client Security Fund, the Board of Law Examiners, the Judicial Conduct Board, or if you have any other ethical concerns or questions, contact Attorney Craig Simpson at 412-731-3100 to arrange an appointment at our convenient and confidential office. All inquiries are strictly confidential.