Upon application from the Commission the supreme court may do any of the following:
· Retire a judicial officer for a permanent physical or mental disability which substantially interferes with the performance of judicial duties.
Some examples include:
o Alcohol or drug abuse
o Physical illness
o Mental illness
· Discipline or remove a judicial officer for:
o Persistent failure to perform duties,
o Habitual intemperance (excessive use of alcohol or drugs)
o Willful misconduct in office
o Conduct which brings judicial office into disrepute
o Substantial violation of judicial ethics.
· Discipline of a judicial officer may include suspension without pay for a definite period of time not to exceed twelve months.
· Discipline or remove an employee for conduct that violates the judicial branch code of employee ethics.
If a complaint appears to be supported by evidence but even if it were to be proven, it would not justify action by the supreme court (for example, the misconduct was minor or a one-time violation), the Commission may handle the matter by warning the judicial officer or employee that future misconduct may result in more serious discipline. The commission does not report matters handled in this way to the supreme court.
Summary of Past Actions
In the Matter of Cartenson, 316 N.W. 2nd 889 (1982)
Judge Cartenson failed to file Rule 200 Reports, a monthly report of matters taken under advisement in any case for longer than 60 days, together with an explanation of the reasons for the delay and an expected date of decision. Judge Cartenson was suspended for 30 days.
In the Matter of Harned, 357 N.W. 2nd 300 (1984)
Magistrate Harned wrote a letter to another magistrate suggesting the disposition of daughter’s traffic citation. Magistrate Harned was given public reprimand and a four day suspension.
In the Matter of Eads, 363 N.W. 2nd 541 (1985)
Judge Eads waged a campaign of intimidation against an attorney. He was suspended for 60 days.
In the Matter of Jenkins, 503 N.W. 2nd 425 (1993)
The Supreme Court found that Judge Jenkins made irrelevant, degrading and personal characterizations of persons appearing in court. Public reprimand was decided to be the appropriate sanction.
Campbell v. Quad City Times, 547 N.W.2d 608 (Iowa App. 1996)
Judge was asked to take himself off of a case because of a complaint filed against him with the Judicial Qualifications Commission. The judge had forgotten about the complaint, and since he had no memory of the complaint, he had no reason to take himself off the case.
In the Matter of the Inquiry Concerning Robert Moore, No. 99-648 (1999)
Magistrate Moore found to have disregarded Rule 200 Reports, a monthly report of matters taken under advisement in any case for longer than 60 days, together with an explanation of the reasons for the delay and an expected date of decision. A public reprimand was given.
In the Matter of Inquire of George Stigler, 607 N.W. 2nd 699 (2000)
Judge Stigler (1) proceeded with hearing to set aside temporary injunction issued by another judge while counsel of record for one of the parties was engaged in trial of previously scheduled matter in same courthouse, (2) called un-represented party to witness stand and through leading questions obtained admissions of domestic abuse from him, and (3) adjudicated custody, visitation and child support even though no request was on file that judge do so. Judge failed to recuse himself from ruling on temporary attorney-fee application in which one party was represented by an attorney who had filed a complaint against the judge. Judge made improper and disrespectful remarks during disciplinary proceeding before the Judicial Qualifications Commission. Court ordered public reprimand.
In the Matter of the Inquiry Concerning Sandra Holien, 612 N.W. 2nd 789 (2000)
· did not follow certain rules of procedure
· was disrespectful and hostile to court personnel, defendants, and peace officers
· refused to keep an open court
· would not meet with chief judge regarding judge’s conduct
Court ordered judge removed from office effective thirty days from filing of opinion unless judge resigned.
In the Matter of the Inquiry Concerning Stephen Gerard, 631 N.W.2d 271 (2001)Judge Gerard had an undisclosed sexual relationship with an assistant county attorney. The judge also did not get his work done in a timely matter after receiving prior admonition. Judge Gerard received a 45 day suspension.
In the Matter of the Inquiry Concerning Patrick C. McCormick, 639 N.W.2d 12 (Iowa 2002)
The Judicial Qualifications Commission questioned Judge McCormick about a political sign on his lawn. He responded it was his wife’s. The Commission cautioned him, but decided it wasn’t a technical violation. Judge McCormick later informed the Commission it was his sign, and he was apologetic for misrepresenting himself. The Supreme Court held judges should not have a political sign on his/her property and the judge made a material misstatement to the Commission. The judge was publicly reprimanded as he had corrected his misrepresentation in a timely fashion.
In the Matter of the Inquiry Concerning James A. Weaver, No. 04-1457 (2004)
Judge Weaver was arrested and convicted of drunk driving. The Judicial Qualifications Commission found Judge Weaver’s actions constituted willful misconduct in office, brought the judicial office into disrepute, and violated two canons of the Iowa Code of Judicial Conduct. The judge was publicly reprimanded.
In the Matter of Clarence B. Meldrum, Jr., Judicial Magistrate, No. 13–0367 (2013)
Magistrate Meldrum published an advertisement for his services as a private attorney in which he wore his judicial robes and referred to his position as a magistrate in violation of the Iowa Code of Judicial Conduct. The magistrate was publicly reprimanded.
In the Matter of the Inquiry Concerning Judge Daniel Block, No. 12-0256 (2012)
Judge Block was arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated, first offense (a serious misdemeanor) when he was returning home after a party on a weekend evening. He subsequently pleaded guilty. The Judicial Qualifications Commission found the judge’s conduct to be a substantial violation of Canon 1 and rules 51:1.1 [failure to comply with the law] and 51:1.2 [failure to avoid impropriety and to promote confidence in the judiciary] of the Code of Judicial Conduct and recommended the Supreme Court publicly reprimand the judge. The Supreme Court confirmed the Judicial Qualifications Commission’s findings and publicly reprimanded the judge.
In the Matter of the Inquiry Concerning Judge Emily Dean, No. 14-0510 (2014)
Judge Dean arrived at the courthouse in Henry County in a significantly intoxicated condition and was physically unable to take the bench to perform her judicial duties. She was escorted from the courthouse by court staff. The Judicial Qualifications Commission found the judge’s conduct to be a substantial violation of Canon 1 and rules 51:1.2 [failure to avoid impropriety and failure to promote confidence in the judiciary] and 51:2.5(A) [failure to competently perform judicial duties] of the Code of Judicial Conduct and recommended the Supreme Court suspend the judge without pay for 90 days. The Supreme Court confirmed the Judicial Qualifications Commission’s findings and suspended the judge without pay for 30 days.
In the Matter of the Inquiry Concerning Magistrate Douglas Krull, No. 14-1596 (2014)
Magistrate Krull, while acting in his capacity as a judicial magistrate, signed a search warrant authorizing law enforcement officers to search the home of a client whom Krull, acting as a private attorney, was representing in a child custody case. The warrant authorized a search for evidence pertaining to his client’s son’s possible involvement in a burglary. The Judicial Qualifications Commission found the magistrate’s conduct in signing the search warrant to be a substantial violation of three sections of the Code of Judicial Conduct: part III(B) of the Application section [acting as a lawyer in a proceeding in which he served as a judge], rule 51:2.11(A) [failure to disqualify himself as a judge], and 51:1.2 [failure to avoid impropriety and to promote confidence in the judiciary]. The Commission recommended the Supreme Court publicly reprimand the magistrate. The Supreme Court confirmed the Judicial Qualifications Commission’s findings and publicly reprimanded the magistrate.
In the Matter of the Inquiry Concerning Magistrate Joseph Sevcik, No. 15-2008 (2016)
Magistrate Sevcik, acting in his capacity as a private attorney, represented a client in a hearing in district court in a domestic relations case. Prior to the hearing, he obtained two case files from the Clerk of District Court office for cases in which deferred judgments in criminal cases that had been entered against his client’s opponent. Those case records were subsequently expunged (sealed) and, therefore, were confidential files available only for use by judicial officers and selected other public officials identified in Iowa Code §907.4(2), not by other attorneys or the general public. During the hearing, Sevcik used a document from one of the sealed confidential files to impeach a witness (his client’s opponent). The Judicial Qualifications Commission found the judge’s conduct to be a substantial violation of four rules of the Code of Judicial Conduct and recommended the Supreme Court publicly reprimand the magistrate. The Supreme Court concluded the magistrate had violated two rules of the Code of Judicial Conduct: 51:1.2 2 [failure to avoid impropriety and failure to promote confidence in the judiciary] and 51:3.5 [obtaining confidential information as a judicial officer and using it for a purpose unrelated to his judicial duties], and publicly reprimanded the magistrate.