So where can a judge go, what can a judge do to be part of the solution?
I want to be clear that the next few parts of this post are about ideas and questions. I have been educating myself about judicial misconduct for about 10 years. I gather what I can, I study, I read, I research. But there is a lot I still don’t know. Either because the information is inaccessible to members of the public or it is not well publicized. These next few posts discuss some ideas for good judges who are tired of the bad conduct of their colleagues.
In 2004, I asked then-Hennepin-County-Chief-Judge Lucy Wieland’s chambers whether as Chief Judge, she could help with a problem judge. She communicated back that there was no process for her to do that (not verbatim). That led me astray for many years. I am only now realizing the specific role of the chief judges in keeping other judges in line.
For example, today I reviewed Judicial Council email policy (317_Internet-Electronic_Communication_Policy) which states at Section III, “Implementation of Section I of this policy shall be the responsibility of the chief judges of the ten judicial districts and the Court of Appeals, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and the State Court Administrator.” So in addition to giving judges who send bad emails the cold shoulder (stating that you refuse to participate in that discussion), the chief judges have a specific role in monitoring email use.
What if a particular judge was really being a problem? And what if that judge was exhibiting bad judicial behavior via email? What if, rather than participating, or just ignoring it, that particular judge’s inappropriate emails were all delivered by fellow judges, to the chief judge? Could that cause something to change?
I’d be interested in knowing how lawyers and members of the public can learn more about the role of chief judges in this regard. (Can a member of the public make a complaint to a chief judge? I now have a copy of a policy regarding this for the Fourth Judicial District, but I can’t tell if it’s still effective, and so far I can’t get anyone to tell me.) And, it is my guess that there are some judges who could also benefit from a ready resource about the role of chief judges and other appropriate authorities with regard to monitoring and disciplining judges.
(See additional discussion of ‘appropriate authorities’ in Part 3).