The State Commission on Judicial Conduct cannot exercise appellate review of a case or change the decision or ruling of any court. For example, if the Commission finds a judge's actions to be misconduct, the Commission can issue sanctions against the judge, or seek the judge's removal from the bench. However, even removal would not change the judge's ruling in a case. Only the appellate process can change the decision of a court.The Commission cannot:
Judicial misconduct is an action by a judge that brings discredit upon the judiciary or the administration of justice. It could be a violation of the Texas Constitution, the Texas Penal Code, the Code of Judicial Conduct, or other rules established by the Supreme Court of Texas. Examples might include the following:
"Wrong" decisions by a judge are not misconduct, even if those decisions appear to fly in the face of the evidence or appear to be based upon "perjured" testimony, and even if the judge misapplies the law. Appeal may be the only remedy for such a situation, or there may be no remedy. Granting of custody or visitation, or setting child support are generally decisions within the discretion of the trial court. Any fine or sentence imposed by a judge in a traffic or criminal matter, if it is within the parameters set by law for the offense charged, is not usually a matter for Commission consideration.
The Commission does not accept complaints by telephone, fax, or email. To file a complaint, you may download a complaint form (available in English and Spanish) from this website, or you may request a complaint form by calling (512) 463-5533 or toll-free at (877) 228-5750. You may also write a letter outlining your complaint, which should provide the following information:
Send your complaint to the following address: State Commission on Judicial Conduct
PO Box 12265
Austin TX 78711
You will be notified in writing that the complaint has been received. Each complaint is reviewed, analyzed, investigated as appropriate, and presented to the Commission for its consideration and vote. You may be asked to provide additional information, or in certain circumstances, appear before the Commission. The Texas Constitution requires that all investigative activities of the Commission are confidential. This means that the Commission cannot confirm or deny that an investigation is underway.Some cases are investigated quickly, while others are more complex and, therefore, require more time. A case can take anywhere from a few months to over a year to be resolved. An investigation may include:
Once the investigation is complete, the case is presented to the Commission for its consideration. Based on the specific constitutional provisions, statutes and canons under which the Commission operates, it considers and votes on each matter. In each case, the Complainant will be informed of the Commision's final action in writing. However, the Texas Government Code provides that the judge's name may not be stated in the correspondence to the Complainant, unless a public sanction has been issued. Likewise, in some instances, the name of the Complainant may be kept confidential.
The State Commission on Judicial Conduct has several options available when taking action on a case. The types of actions include dismissal, sanction, suspension, and the acceptance of a voluntary agreement to resign from judicial office in lieu of disciplinary action. The Commission may also initiate formal proceedings, which could result in the removal of the judge from the bench. After a thorough review of your complaint, the Commission has several options.
Additionally, the Commission may request that the Supreme Court of Texas suspend a judge under the provisions of Rule 15(b) of the Procedural Rules for Removal of Retirement of Judges. Rule 15(b) states, Upon filing with the Commission of a sworn complaint charging a person holding such office with willful or persistent violation of rules promulgated by the Supreme Court of Texas, incompetence in performing the duties of office, willful violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct, or willful and persistent conduct that is clearly inconsistent with the proper performance of his duties or casts public discredit upon the judiciary or the administration of justice, the Commission, after giving the person notice and an opportunity to appear and be heard before the Commission (under the provisions of Rule 6), may recommend to the Supreme Court the suspension of such person from office.
The order of suspension and all records and proceedings relating to it will be made public.
Within 30 days of the date the State Commission on Judicial Conduct issues a public or private sanction, or order of education, the judge may appeal the sanction by filing a written request with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas requesting the appointment of three appellate justices to act as a Special Court of Review.
Within 15 days after the Special Court of Review is appointed, the Commission must file with the clerk a "charging document," which includes a copy of the sanction issued, as well as any additional charges to be considered in the de novo trial; that is, a trial in which the case is considered from the beginning, as if the Commission had taken no previous action. Any hearings on the matter before the Special Court of Review are public, as well as any evidence introduced during a hearing, and pleadings filed with the clerk.
Within 30 days of filing the charging document, a de novo trial is held. The Texas Rules of Civil Procedure apply, except that the judge is not entitled to a jury.
The Special Court of Review may dismiss the case, affirm the Commission's decision, impose a greater or lesser sanction, or order the Commission to file formal proceedings. The decision of the Special Court of Review is final.
If the case is dismissed by the Commission, the Complainant can request, one time only, a reconsideration of the Commission's decision. The dismissal letter provides the Complainant with the Reconsideration Policy along with the Commission's form for requesting such review. The Complainant's request for a reconsideration must:
The Complainants request for a reconsideration will be denied if the request does not meet these requirements. If the Complainants request for a reconsideration is granted, the Commission will vote to either:
The Complainant will be informed in writing of the Commission's decision on the request for a reconsideration.