COMMISSION ON JUDICIAL DISABILITIES

ORIGIN & FUNCTIONS


In 1966, the Commission on Judicial Disabilities was established by constitutional amendment (Chapter 773, Acts of 1965, ratified Nov. 8, 1966; Const., Art. IV, sec. 4A). Subsequent constitutional amendments strengthened the Commission, clarified its powers, and added additional public members to its composition.

The Commission receives and investigates written complaints of sanctionable conduct or disability against Maryland judges. Complaint forms are available on the Commission website or may be obtained by calling the Commission office. The Commission is authorized to dismiss complaints if after an investigation, it determines that the evidence does not support the complaint or if the conduct is unlikely to be repeated. With the judges' consent, the Commission may issue warnings or private reprimands, and enter into deferred discipline agreements with accused judges stipulating corrective or remedial action to be satisfied.

To determine whether to initiate formal proceedings, the Commission conducts a preliminary investigation after which a hearing may be held regarding a judge's alleged misconduct or disability. If, as a result of these hearings, the Commission, by majority vote, decides that a judge should be retired, removed, censured, or publicly reprimanded, it recommends that course of action to the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals also may order a more severe discipline of the judge than the Commission recommends.

To judicial nominating commissions, the Commission provides confidential information on reprimands to or charges pending against judges seeking nomination to judicial offices (Maryland Rules 16-803 through 16-811).

Certain matters fall outside the authority of the Commission on Judicial Disabilities. For example, the Commission does not have appellate authority and, therefore, cannot review, reverse, or modify a legal decision or other court action taken by a judge. Nor can the Commission affect the progress or outcome of a case. Moreover, the Commission cannot require a judge's recusal, or disqualify a judge from presiding over a particular case. In addition, the Commission has no authority to investigate complaints against magistrates, examiners, administrative law judges, federal judges, police, court personnel, state's attorneys, or public defenders.

With Senate advice and consent, the Governor appoints the Commission's eleven members to four-year terms (Const., Art. IV, secs. 4A, 4B; Code Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article, secs. 13-401 through 13-403; Maryland Rule 16-804).

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