Date of this Version
Copyright American Judges Association. Used by Permission.
In 2018, as a result of state disciplinary proceedings, seven judges were removed from office, 25 judges resigned or retired in lieu of discipline and publicly agreed to never serve again, one judge agreed to resign and was publicly admonished, 11 judges were suspended without pay, three judges received cease-and-desist orders, and 84 judges received public censures, reprimands, admonishments, or warnings.1 Reflecting that the code of judicial conduct requires a judge “to act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary,”2 the conduct underlying those sanctions related both to performing judicial duties, such as abuse of authority and lack of diligence, and to off-bench activities, such as driving while intoxicated and inappropriate political activity.2
The trend of judges getting into trouble on Facebook that began in 2009 continued through 2018, with several discipline cases illustrating the perils of participating on social-media platforms that judicial ethics advisory committees have warned judges about.
For example, the Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for mocking a litigant in a Facebook post that purported to be a verbatim account of an eviction proceeding over which the judge had presided and began: “In the category of, You can’t make this stuff up!”3 The post described a maintenance man’s testimony about finding heroin under the bathroom rug in the tenant’s apartment. The tenant testified that the heroin was not his, explaining that cocaine was his drug of choice and he keeps his drugs in a safe. When asked how the heroin got into his apartment, the tenant replied: “I don’t know. Maybe one of the hookers I had in my apartment left it.” The judge’s post ended: “Needless to say, the Court ruled in favor of the landlord.”