Started in 2001, Amicus Curiae ("Amicus") is a judicial disciplinary and education program intended to address a growing concern, often generated by scandals reported by the media, of judicial misconduct caused by impairment. Before the Commission started this program, complaints of judicial misconduct relating to impairment, such as drug or alcohol abuse or mental illness, were sanctioned or dismissed if unfounded. The underlying impairment was never addressed. Amicus affords a third option under the Commission’s authority to order additional training and education to a judge found to have violated a canon of judicial conduct. Amicus offers assistance to the judge to address the underlying personal impairment causally connected to the misconduct. One advantage Amicus offers over other similar programs such as the Texas Lawyers Assistance Program operated by the State Bar of Texas is its ability to assist all judges, attorney and non-attorney alike.
Although the confidential referral to Amicus by the Commission through the disciplinary process does not shield the judge from any sanction that the Commission deems appropriate, the Commission recognizes that not all impairment issues result in misconduct. In order to reach out to those judges who may be suffering in silence and who may not be the subject of a complaint as a result of their impairment, Amicus offers a self-referral component to its program, which affords judges an opportunity to seek assistance, in confidence, outside the disciplinary process.
For more information about the program, including how to make a confidential referral, please contact the Amicus Program Manager at (512) 463-7769.