RULES OF THE JUDICIARY COMMISSION
STATE OF LOUISIANA
Adopted April 18-19, 1997 and May 16, 1997.
Amended September 12, 1997, April 17, 1998, April 20, 2001, September 21, 2001,
November 15, 2002, July 16, 2004, November 12, 2004, October 27, 2006,
November 30, 2007, January 16, 2009, May 22, 2009,
and October 15, 2010
Table of Rules
|I.||Sessions||IX.||Voting and Polls|
|II.||Attendance and Quorum||X.||Confidentiality and Media Communications|
|III.||Form of Complaints||XI.||Chair, Vice Chair, and Legal Counsel|
|IV.||Receipt of Complaints; Screened Out Complaints||XII.||Recusal or Disqualification|
|VI.||Conduct of Investigations||XIV.||Members and Former Members; Disposition of Files; No Participation in Judicial Races|
|VII.||Subpoenas; Production of Evidence; Oaths; Filings Made with the Commission; Bench books and Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law; Judge's Duty to Cooperate; Case Managers; Prehearing Motions; and Exhibits||XV.||Notice to Judge that the Commission will Recommend Discipline; Notice to the Press|
|VIII.||Conduct of Hearings; Admissibility of Evidence; No recording of proceedings||XVI.||Hearing Officers|
|XVII.||Enforcement of Financial Disclosure Rules|
Pursuant to Article V, Section 25, Constitution of 1974, and to Rule XXIII of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Louisiana, the following rules for the conduct of the business of The Judiciary Commission, State of Louisiana, are adopted. The appropriate citation form for these rules shall be “JCL Rule ___.”
RULE I. SESSIONS.
The Commission shall convene at least once per quarter. Upon notice to all members, the Chair may call a special session or dispense with a scheduled session as the business of the Commission may necessitate.
RULE II. ATTENDANCE AND QUORUM.
A quorum for the conduct of any official business shall be six members of the Commission.
The Commission is enhanced by the participation of all members; therefore, members are encouraged to set aside time for each meeting and to participate during the entire meeting. Members may participate in regularly scheduled meetings by telephone only in the event of illness of the member that precludes travel to the site of the meeting; provided however, the Chair shall have the discretion to permit a member to participate in a Commission meeting by telephone if the Chair reasonably decides that extraordinary circumstances exist that permit such participation. Under no circumstances may a Commission member participate in a hearing by telephone.
RULE III. FORM OF COMPLAINTS.
Complaints made to the Commission concerning the misconduct or disability of a judge should be in writing, or reduced to writing, and should specify the misconduct or disability complained of, and should be signed by the complainant.
The Commission, however, may consider alleged misconduct or disability of any judge from whatever source, including anonymous complaints and news reports, and may do so on its own motion.
RULE IV. RECEIPT OF COMPLAINTS; SCREENED OUT COMPLAINTS.
All complaints should be directed to the Chief Executive Officer of the Commission, who is the Judicial Administrator of the State of Louisiana, at 400 Royal Street, Suite 1190, New Orleans, Louisiana 70130-8101 or to Special Counsel, who is the legal counsel whose duties are described in JCL Rule XI B. Any member of the Commission, however, may receive a complaint or bring any matter to the attention of the Commission on his or her own motion.
The Judicial Administrator may (1) direct such complaints to Special Counsel, for further screening and preliminary investigation, or (2) in his discretion, bring such complaints directly to the attention of the Chair for other action, as the circumstances may require. Special Counsel shall maintain a docket of all complaints and shall provide (a) to the Commission, upon the completion of each reporting stage of the proceedings, a full written report as to pending open files; and (b) a full written and/or other report upon the specific request of the Chair and/or the Chief Executive Officer of the Commission.
Rule XXIII, Sec. 3 of the Rules of the Louisiana Supreme Court requires the Commission to commence a preliminary investigation of complaints that are not obviously unfounded or frivolous and that allege facts that, if true, constitute judicial conduct in violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct or of 1974 La. Const. art. V, Sec. 25C. Complaints that are deemed obviously unfounded or frivolous, or which solely criticize a judge’s official decision making or claim judicial error are screened out by the staff of the Office of the Special Counsel to the Commission, and such screened out complaints are later confirmed and ratified by a majority of the Commission, who may choose to open a file that has previously been screened out by the staff. If a file has been screened out and the Commission has not reversed the screen out decision, and a complainant objects, he or she may lodge a written appeal of the screen out decision, which shall be directed to the Chief Executive Officer or to the Special Counsel to the Commission. The request for appeal must state the basis for his or her disagreement with the screen out decision, and may provide further information to the Commission concerning the facts underlying the original complaint. The Commission will review the original complaint and the written request for appeal at a subsequent regularly scheduled meeting of the Commission, and the decision made by the Commission concerning the appeal shall be final.
RULE V. ANSWERING COMPLAINTS.
All non-frivolous complaints received by the Commission shall be answered in writing with such commentary or explanation as the Commission may deem advisable, to the extent there is no conflict with confidentiality imposed by the Louisiana Constitution and the Rules of the Supreme Court of Louisiana.
This rule shall not be applicable to repetitive and argumentative complaints from a single source when the initial complaint has been answered.
If the Commission determines a complaint to be obviously unfounded or frivolous, it shall so inform the complainant, unless the Commission determines under the particular circumstances that no response is required. This determination may be by telephone, a majority of the Commission concurring.
RULE VI. CONDUCT OF INVESTIGATIONS.
With respect to a preliminary investigation for the purpose of determining whether a hearing should be held on any complaint, the Commission may cause such investigation to be made in any manner it deems proper. It may be made by the Chief Executive Officer, the Judicial Administrator, by Special Counsel, or by any other person designated by the Commission who is not a member of the Commission, such as a Special Counsel Ad Hoc.
RULE VII. SUBPOENAS, PRODUCTION OF EVIDENCE; OATHS; FILINGS MADE WITH THE COMMISSION; BENCH BOOKS AND PROPOSED FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW; JUDGE’S DUTY TO COOPERATE; CASE MANAGERS; PREHEARING MOTIONS; AND EXHIBITS.
A. The Commission authorizes its Chief Executive Officer and Commission Counsel to exercise its statutory authority under La. R.S. 13:36 to subpoena witnesses, compel their attendance, examine them under oath or affirmation, and require the production of books, records, documents or other evidence deemed relevant or material to an investigation or hearing. In addition to service by other legal means, subpoenas or other process issued by the Commission may also be served (1) by an employee of the Office of Special Counsel other than either the Special Counsel or the Assistant Special Counsel, or (2) by a person designated by the respondent judge, after written notice of such designation has been filed with the Commission. If a subpoena is served by a member of the staff of the Office of Special Counsel or by a person designated by a respondent judge in accordance with this rule, the person requesting the subpoena shall file with the Commission a fully executed affidavit of service with respect to such subpoena.
With respect to oaths:
(1) Before testifying every witness shall be required to declare that he or she will testify truthfully by oath or affirmation.
(2) Any member of the Commission may administer oaths or affirmations.
B. All pleadings filed with the Commission must be filed in the Commission’s office (and not with the Office of Special Counsel). On the date hereof, the Commission’s office is located at 400 Royal Street, Suite 1190, New Orleans, LA 70130-8101. Filings may not be made by facsimile transmission. Filings must conform to the requirements of La. Sup. Ct. Rule XXIII, Sec. 4(b), directing that an original and nine legible duplicate original copies of pleadings be presented for filing. No filing presented after 4:00 p.m. will be filed on the day of submission, but will be clocked in and considered filed on the next succeeding business day. Other than pursuant to an order to file a pleading by a specific date, for a pleading to be considered at a Commission meeting, it must be filed with the Commission more than seven days prior to such meeting.
C. Both the Special Counsel to the Commission and the respondent judge may prepare and submit to the Commission in advance of a scheduled hearing: (a) a bench book of exhibits and other materials that may be used at the hearing of the formal charges at issue in the case; and/or (b) proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law for consideration by the Commission. Any bench books and/or proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law must be filed in ten counterparts (original and nine legible copies).
D. The failure or refusal of a judge to cooperate in an investigation, or the use of dilatory practices, frivolous or unfounded responses or arguments, or other uncooperative behavior may be considered by the Commission in determining whether or not to recommend a sanction to the Louisiana Supreme Court and may bear on the severity of the sanction actually recommended.
E. The Chair, in his or her discretion, may name one commission member to serve as case manager once formal charges have been filed against a judge. The case manager’s purpose it to facilitate movement of the case through the system and to address procedural problems and issues. The case manager shall not discuss the merits of the case with the Special Counsel or legal counsel for the judge or with the judge himself or herself. When a judge whose conduct has been criticized as violative of the Code of Judicial Conduct expresses interest in entering into a deferred recommendation of discipline agreement with the Commission, Commission Counsel or Special Counsel, depending upon who received the information, shall immediately report such request to the case manager assigned to the case. The case manager shall communicate the judge’s request to the other Commission members at the next scheduled meeting of the Commission, with a recommendation to the other members concerning the request.
F. Motions made prior to hearing must be made in writing and filed with the Commission’s office (and not with the Office of Special Counsel), due regard given to filing requirements of these and other applicable rules. Except in extraordinary circumstances as determined by the Chair of the Commission, the Commission decides motions based upon the written pleadings filed, and oral argument is not permitted. Upon receipt of service of a written motion, the attorney for the respondent judge, or the attorney representing the Office of Special Counsel, shall respond immediately. In order to determine a deadline for responding, the attorney in question may contact the Commission Counsel so that a deadline may be set for a response. Because all pleadings to be considered at a meeting of the Commission must be filed at least seven days prior to the meeting, if a motion is filed on the seventh day before a meeting and a responsive pleading is appropriate, the Commission may allow the responder to file a pleading within a short time period (if necessary within the three days of the upcoming meeting), or delay decision making on the motion and the response thereto until a date after the upcoming Commission meeting.
G. Prior to a hearing, the Office of Special Counsel and the legal counsel for the respondent judge shall meet to review exhibits that each side proposes to introduce into evidence at the hearing. Following such meeting, and at least ten (10) days prior to the scheduled hearing, the Office of Special Counsel and the legal counsel for the respondent judge shall file a memorandum of understanding with regard to the proposed exhibits, indicating no objection to the proposed exhibits, or stating with specificity any objections either counsel may have. In the case of a failure by legal counsel to agree to the memorandum of understanding concerning the proposed exhibits, such objecting counsel may make a separate filing as to his or her position as to the exhibits of opposing counsel. Failure to make a timely filing (whether the preferred memorandum of understanding or a separate submission) may result in the Commission refusing to accept any exhibits of the non-filing party into evidence, although such excluded exhibits may be proffered for review by the Louisiana Supreme Court.
RULE VIII. CONDUCT OF HEARINGS, ADMISSIBILITY OF EVIDENCE; NO RECORDING OF PROCEEDINGS.
A. The Chair, or other Commission member designated by the Commission, shall preside over hearings to inquire into charges against a judge. The Chair, or presiding member, shall conduct the proceedings, rule on objections to evidence, subject to being overruled by a majority of members present at the hearing or at a subsequent deliberation. If a Commission member wishes to discuss an evidentiary ruling by the Chair, or the presiding member, such discussion and vote of the Commissions with respect to the challenged ruling shall be conducted outside of the presence of the parties and their legal counsel. The Chair, or presiding member, may defer ruling on an objection and admit evidence subject thereto.
B. Hearings to inquire into charges against a judge shall proceed in the following order, subject to change, which may include eliminating statements of both the Special Counsel and the judge, in the discretion of the Chair:
(1) Brief opening statements by the Special Counsel and the judge whose conduct is the subject of the proceeding, in that order;
(2) All proposed exhibits of both Special Counsel and the judge whose conduct is the subject of the proceedings shall be numbered and marked, with a list of the exhibits attached. All exhibits shall be introduced into evidence en globo at the commencement of the hearing, except in the case of objections to admissibility. The Chair may either rule on any objection to the admissibility of one or more exhibits or defer the ruling until a later specific time in the proceedings. Any exhibit sought to be introduced that contains information that is privileged and confidential by law, such as case records from juvenile courts that are subject to statutory confidentiality rules, shall only be admitted if the confidential portions of the exhibits are marked out or otherwise excerpted from the exhibit. When an audio or video tape constitutes an exhibit, except in exigent circumstances (decided in the discretion of the Chair), such tape must be introduced along with a transcription thereof made by a certified court reporter.
(3) Presentation of evidence by the Special Counsel and the judge whose conduct is the subject of the proceeding, in that order;
(4) Presentation of evidence by the Special Counsel in rebuttal; and
(5) Argument by the Special Counsel and by the judge whose discipline is the subject of the proceeding and by Special Counsel, in that order.
To support a recommendation of discipline to the Supreme Court Special Counsel shall establish the grounds therefor by the standard of clear and convincing evidence.
C. (1) Witnesses shall be subject to direct examination, cross examination and re-direct examination. Re-direct examination shall be limited to matters inquired into on cross examination. The Commission may permit inquiry into new matters on re-direct subject to the right of the other party to conduct cross examination of the witness on the new matters.
(2) A witness who appears but refuses to testify without proper cause shall be in contempt of the Commission and shall be immediately referred to the Louisiana Supreme Court.
(3) Testimony regarding the character of a respondent judge shall be taken solely by affidavit except on a showing of good cause in the discretion of the Commission, in which case the Commission may permit live testimony. Testimony by judges other than the respondent judge that the respondent did or did not violate the Code of Judicial Conduct or the Louisiana Constitution or that the Code should be interpreted in any particular manner will not be admitted into evidence, the Commission itself being vested with the sole authority to make such a determination as part of its recommendation to the Louisiana Supreme Court. If subpoenaed to testify, a judge other than the respondent may be called as a witness to testify to relevant facts about the underlying basis for the complaint that gave rise to formal charges or to otherwise give relevant factual testimony to try to provide to the Commission a contextual perspective about the respondent’s conduct. The Commission does not deem such testimony by a judge to be “expert testimony.”
Comment: The Commission views expert testimony as rarely relevant or necessary in Commission proceedings. One example of when expert testimony might be relevant and admitted in a Commission proceedings would be with regard to a physical or mental alleged disability of a respondent judge, when such judge’s health is at issue before the Commission.
D. (1) The Commission shall not be bound by the technical rules of evidence and may admit material and relevant evidence.
(2) The principles underlying the Louisiana Code of Evidence shall serve as a guide to the admissibility of evidence in hearings before the Commission. The specific exclusionary rules and other provisions shall be applied only to the extent that they tend to promote the purposes of proceedings before the Commission, in the discretion of the Chair or the presiding member.
(3) (a) Procedures applicable in Commission hearings shall be limited to those (i) set forth or incorporated by reference into these rules and Rule XXIII of the Supreme Court of Louisiana and (ii) employed by the Chair in his or her discretion. The Commission may entertain a motion for dismissal of the case by the respondent judge at the time the Office of Special Counsel rests, on the ground that the formal charges at issue were not proven by clear and convincing evidence.
(b) (i) Special Counsel to the Commission may enter into proposed stipulations of fact with the respondent judge and the judge’s legal counsel. Unless the provisions of La. Sup. Ct. Rule XXIII, Sec. 29(g) apply, the stipulations need not be approved by the hearing officer or the Commission. The fact that counsel and the respondent judge have entered into stipulations of fact shall not affect the right of the Commission to remand all or part of a case back to the hearing officer for further testimony after the case heard before the hearing officer has been lodged with the Commission.
(ii) Special Counsel to the Commission and the respondent judge may enter into joint recommendations as to conclusions of law to the hearing officer assigned to the relevant case or to the Commission if the Commission is conducting the hearing in lieu of a hearing officer. Neither the Commission nor the hearing officer shall be bound to accept such joint recommendation as to legal conclusions, and may reject them without comment. After a case heard by a hearing officer has been lodged with the Commission (or after the Commission conducts a hearing) a recommendation regarding discipline may be included in the respective briefs of the Special Counsel and the respondent judge.
E. Where the Commission rules against the admissibility of any evidence it shall permit the party offering the evidence to submit the evidence by deposition taken pursuant to the provisions of the Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure. Such evidence shall be submitted within thirty (30) calendar days subsequent to the completion of the hearing.
F. Following a hearing the Commission will not accept any further filings or pleadings, except in the case where the Commission has granted specific authority to either the Special Counsel or to the judge whose’s conduct is at issue to file a pleading (which permission shall include a certain number of days in which to submit). Any unauthorized filing or pleading submitted after a hearing will not become part of the record of the proceeding and will not be considered by the Commission in its deliberations in a particular case.
G. Unless authorized by the Commission, no camera, recording equipment, or other type of electrical or electronic device shall be brought into the premises where a hearing of the Commission is being conducted or used to record such proceedings.
RULE IX. VOTING AND POLLS.
Each Commission member present at a meeting of the Commission should vote in favor of or in opposition to each motion called for a vote during a Commission meeting or other proceeding, except when such member has grounds for recusal and has actually recused herself or himself in the matter. Abstention from voting should only be exercised in exceptional circumstances, such as when a new member commences service and a vote is called upon a matter not reviewed by the new member.
The Chair shall vote on all matters submitted to the Commission in the same manner as any other Commission member. A vote of a majority of the Commission is required to issue closure letters, such as warnings, cautions and admonishments.
There shall be no voting by proxy by any Commission member. Except as set forth in paragraph immediately following, a Commission member who was not present either in person or by teleconference at a meeting where a particular issue was discussed or heard shall not be entitled to vote on that particular issue or matter previously submitted for review where the vote is taken at a subsequent meeting.
In the case where a Commission hearing is convened and the term of a Commission member expires or otherwise terminates prior to deliberation and vote on the matters heard, the successor to the outgoing Commission member may vote on such matters only if such successor member has read in full the transcript of the relevant hearing. Further, in the case of a hearing or other appearance of a judge or judicial officer where a full transcript of the proceeding is prepared, a Commission member who is not present at the hearing or other appearance may vote on the matter after reviewing the entire transcript.
Except as set forth hereinafter, routine business of the Commission, including authorization of an investigation requiring approval of the members, may be transacted by a telephone or other poll of at least six members, a majority of the members concurring. No charges shall be instituted except upon deliberation at a Commission meeting. If a judge has been indicted or charged with a serious crime under state or federal law, the Commission may vote by telephone or other poll, a majority of the members concurring, on the issue of whether to recommend to the Supreme Court that such judge be disqualified on an interim basis, pursuant to La. Sup. Ct. Rule XXIII, Sec. 27. A serious crime, for purposes of this rule means (1) any felony; or (2) any other lesser crime that reflects adversely on the judge’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as judge.
Following a decision to institute charges, drafts of the charges shall be circulated to the members, who shall indicate a vote of approval or disapproval by mail or any other means approved by a majority of the Commission members.
Note: See also, Rule XXIII of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Louisiana, including Sections 3(c) and 10, which address voting by the Commission.
RULE X. CONFIDENTIALITY AND MEDIA COMMUNICATIONS.
Every effort shall be made by members of the Commission to keep confidential the fact that a complaint has been made or that an investigation is taking place. No statement may be issued by any member of the Commission, or by any staff member, or by Special Counsel, concerning a particular complaint or investigation.
No respondent judge or legal counsel shall contact a Commission member directly concerning any complaint, investigation, or pending Commission matter. All correspondence or other written communications to be provided to Commission members shall be addressed to the Chief Executive Officer or Commission Counsel for processing and response. No Commission member may make or respond to contacts with the media, the general public, or persons involved in Commission proceedings concerning allegations, investigations or other Commission proceedings, or the administration of the Commission, unless so authorized by the Commission. Such contacts made to a Commission member should be referred to the Chief Executive Officer, who shall respond at his or her discretion with regard to matters that are not confidential. In the event of the unavailability of the Chief Executive Officer at the time a response should be made, the Chair may respond for the Commission. This policy does not preclude Commission members or the Commission's specific designee from publicly discussing general, non-confidential matters concerning the Commission, unrelated to a specific case, such as its purpose, history or composition.
Prior to a proceeding concerning the discipline of a judge being lodged in the Supreme Court by the Commission, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule XXIII, Sections 10 through 12, all inquiries from the media concerning a respondent judge should be forwarded to the Chief Executive Officer who may, if he/she so desires, refer the matter to a designee, including Special Counsel.
When sources other than the Commission cause notoriety concerning a judge or the Commission itself and the Commission deems that extreme circumstances dictate that the best interests of the judge or the Commission would be served, it may issue a public statement through its Chief Executive Officer or its Chair. Such a statement shall never infringe upon Rule XXIII, Section 23 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Louisiana that all documents, evidence and proceedings before the Commission are to be confidential.
Subsequent to the filing of a proceeding in the Supreme Court concerning the discipline of a judge, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule XXIII, Sections 10 through 12, the members, staff, and Special Counsel of the Commission shall refer or forward all inquiries regarding that filing to the Chief Executive Officer, who may, at his or her discretion, refer the matter to a designee, which may include the Special Counsel, for proper and timely response. In the event that Special Counsel is designated to make such a response, Special Counsel shall comply with the provisions of Rule 3.6 of the Rules of Professional Conduct La. R.S. 37, Ch.4, App. art. XVI.
The Commission, or any other person authorized by the Commission, may give an oath or affirmation of secrecy to any investigator, witness, clerk, deponent or any other person involved in a hearing or investigation.
RULE XI. CHAIR, VICE CHAIR, AND LEGAL COUNSEL.
A. The Chair shall be elected by a majority of the members of the Commission and shall serve a term of one year beginning with the date he or she takes office. No member of the Commission may serve as Chair for more than one term. The Commission shall also elect a Vice-Chair who shall serve as Chair whenever the Chair is absent, recused, or disabled. In addition to the other responsibilities of the Chair as set forth in these rules, the Chair shall preside at meetings. It shall be the duty of the Vice Chair to review reports on the status of the docket submitted by Special Counsel, and use all reasonable efforts to keep the docket current.
B. The Commission shall have on its staff a Special Counsel, to be engaged primarily in the investigative and prosecutorial aspects of handling complaints submitted to the Commission, and a Commission Counsel, whose primary function shall be to advise the Commission with respect to matters coming before the Commission, including those presented by Special Counsel, and to draft written findings of fact and conclusions of law, orders, correspondence, and other documents required by the Commission.
(1) Special Counsel shall have the authority and/or duty to:
(a) Receive and screen complaints, conduct preliminary investigations, recommend to the Commission, and upon authorization of the Commission conduct, full investigations, make recommendations to the Commission on the disposition of complaints after full investigation, file formal charges when directed to do so by the Commission, prosecute formal charges before the Commission (including oral argument, filing of briefs and the submission of proposed Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Recommendations for Discipline), and file briefs and other appropriate pleadings for the Commission and orally argue the Commission’s position to the Supreme Court;
(b) Maintain records of the operations of the Special Counsel’s office, including records of complaints, screening, investigation, and filing of formal charges with regard to judicial discipline;
(c) Compile statistics to aid in the administration of Commission business, with respect, but not limited, to (i) logging of all complaints received, (ii) investigative files, and (iii) statistical summaries of docket processing and case disposition. In this regard, Special Counsel shall submit to the Chair and Vice Chair of the Commission at least quarterly, and more frequently if requested by the Chair or Vice Chair, a list of outstanding matters before the Commission, which list shall include sufficient information to indicate the nature of the pending matter and the status thereof as of the time of the report, including the docketing of complaints described in JCL Rule IV;
(d) Supervise such other attorneys, investigators and staff as the Supreme Court may provide to the Commission for the Office of Special Counsel; and
(e) Perform such other duties as the Commission may direct.
(2) Special Counsel:
(a) Shall not be present during any deliberations of the Commission with respect to (i) the decision to file formal charges, (ii) the Commission’s recommendation of discipline to the Supreme Court, or (iii) any other decision pertaining to a particular judge following the filing of formal charges;
(b) Shall not engage in ex parte communications with the Commission as a whole or with any individual Commission member as to a complaint against a judge from the time formal charges are filed and so long as any such matter remains pending before the Commission, except as may be necessary for scheduling purposes. Both Special Counsel and the members of the Commission shall take all necessary steps to avoid such ex parte communications; and
(c) Shall at all times conduct himself or herself in a dignified manner befitting an officer of the Court.
(3) Commission Counsel shall have the authority and/or duty to:
(a) (i) Advise the Commission with respect to all matters submitted to its members by Special Counsel or others; (ii) be present during deliberations of the Commission and advise the Commission with respect to filing formal charges, considering investigations, recommendations to the Supreme Court with regard to discipline, and any other matter on which the Commission must make a decision or ruling; (iii) advise the Commission with respect to policy matters, including drafting rules and policies; (iv) assist the Chair in reviewing Special Counsel’s docket reports and in maintaining a current docket; and (v) issue subpoenas, as described in JCL Rule VII;
(b) Put into writing the Commission’s Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law as to Recommendations for Discipline to the Supreme Court, and to draft orders, reports, correspondence, and other documents requested by and on behalf of the Commission;
(c) Draft the minutes of Commission meetings and maintain records of the Commission, other than those created and maintained in the office of the Special Counsel;
(d) Supervise staff provided by the Supreme Court to the Commission, other than the staff available exclusively to the office of the Special Counsel; and
(e) Perform such other duties as the Commission may direct.
(4) Commission Counsel shall at all times conduct himself or herself in a dignified manner befitting an officer of the Court.
RULE XII. RECUSAL OR DISQUALIFICATION.
A Commission member shall recuse himself or herself in any matter in which recusal would be required by a judge under the Code of Judicial Conduct or where his or her impartiality might reasonably be questioned. In all other cases, a member shall not recuse himself or herself.
If a judge or the Special Counsel believes there are grounds to recuse a Commission member or a member of the Commission’s staff, he or she may file with the Commission a written motion requesting such recusal. A motion to recuse shall be considered at the next regularly scheduled Commission meeting or may be decided by the Commission by telephone poll, in the discretion of the Chair or the Chief Executive Officer, as circumstances may require. The Commission may, but shall not be obligated, to grant a hearing on a motion to recuse. During deliberation on the motion to recuse, the Commission member whose recusal
is sought shall not be present or otherwise participate.
Note: See also, La. C.Cr.P. art. 671 and C.C.P. art. 151(B).
RULE XIII. BUDGET.
The Chief Executive Officer shall prepare the annual budget of the Commission and shall thereafter supervise administration of funds, subject to recommendation and approval by the Commission.
RULE XIV. MEMBERS AND FORMER MEMBERS; DISPOSITION OF FILES; NO PARTICIPATION IN JUDICIAL RACES.
When a disciplinary matter before the Commission has been closed or otherwise terminated, each member of the Commission shall destroy his or her file on that matter.
As soon as practicable after a Commission member's term membership terminates, the former member shall deliver all open Commission files in his or her possession to his or her successor or destroy same.
During a Commissioner’s term he or she shall not support a candidate for judicial office. Support for a candidate includes, among other things, (1) making a monetary or in-kind contribution, (2) public endorsement of the candidate and/or permitting his or her name to be used by another in support of the candidate or, (3) posting a campaign sign in support of the candidate in his or her yard.
RULE XV. NOTICE TO JUDGE THAT THE COMMISSION WILL RECOMMEND DISCIPLINE; NOTICE TO THE PRESS.
As soon as practicable after the Commission votes to submit to the Louisiana Supreme Court a recommendation of judicial discipline and has approved related written findings of fact and conclusions of law, the Commission Counsel shall prepare the record of the Commission for filing with the Louisiana Supreme Court. Thereafter, the judge shall receive at least seventy-two (72) hours’ prior notice, exclusive of weekends and official holidays, of the anticipated filing. Such notice of imminent filing shall be transmitted to the judge by facsimile, if possible, and otherwise in writing in a manner that will assure his or her receipt. In the discretion of the Chief Executive Officer a press release may be prepared regarding the upcoming filing. If a press release will issue it shall be sent to the Associated Press, United Press International, and all other applicable state and local news services at the same time. No member of the Commission or the Commission’s staff shall communicate to the press the fact of a filing in the Supreme Court, and only the person or persons designated by the Commission to have media contact shall respond to any questions from the press with respect to the filing. Notwithstanding the foregoing, where the judge who has been the subject of formal charges sits on a bench where there is more than one judge, the Chief Executive Officer may, in his discretion, contact the chief judge of the relevant court (or the second in seniority if the chief judge is the respondent judge) no earlier than 48 hours, exclusive of holidays and weekends, prior to the filing of a recommendation of discipline by the Commission, and disclose the fact of the imminent filing in order to prepare the court for the possibility of media attention.
RULE XVI. HEARING OFFICERS.
This rule shall be effective during the time that La. Sup. Ct. Rule XXIII provides for the use of hearing officers by the Commission.
A. The Commission authorizes the attorney designated as legal counsel to the hearing officer to exercise the Commission’s authority under La. R.S. 13:36 to subpoena witnesses, compel their attendance, examine them under oath or affirmation, and require the production of books, records, documents or other evidence deemed relevant or material to an investigation or hearing.
B. When a hearing officer is selected in a case, the following provisions shall be applicable:
(1) the functions of the case manager set forth in JCL Rule VII shall be performed by the hearing officer;
(2) all references in JCL Rule VIII to the Chair, the presiding member or any other decision maker shall apply to the hearing officer;
(3) the authority granted to the Commission in JCL Rule VIII G shall apply to the hearing officer; and
(4) [deleted as unnecessary October 15, 2010].
C. Notwithstanding the provisions of JCL Rule VIII F, following a hearing before a hearing officer, the Commission shall accept the filings permitted by La. Sup. Ct. Rule XXIII, Sec. 29(d).
D. Hearing officers are bound by JCL Rules X (Confidentiality and Media Communications), XII (Recusal or Disqualification), and XIV (Members and Former Members; Disposition of Files) to the same extent as members of the Commission are.
E. To the extent that this JCL Rule XVI at any time conflicts with La. Sup. Ct. Rule XXIII, La. Sup. Ct. Rule XXIII shall be controlling.
RULE XVII. ENFORCEMENT OF FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE RULES
A. This rule shall apply to proceedings related to the financial statements required to be filed by La. Sup. Ct. Rule XXXIX (Financial Disclosure) or by La. Sup. Ct. Rule XL (Financial Disclosure by Non-Incumbent Candidates for Elective Judicial Office).
B. Whenever a matter pertaining to financial disclosure is referred to the Commission by the judicial administrator’s office pursuant to the provisions of Sec. 4 (C)(1) or 4(C)(2) of La. Sup. Ct. Rule XXXIX, and the Commission finds that a person may have failed to file a financial statement or may have failed to disclose or disclose accurately the required information, the Commission shall direct the Office of Special Counsel to prepare and process a formal charge, and a hearing on the formal charge shall be held before a hearing officer.
C. Whenever the Commission receives a written complaint from a source other than the judicial administrator that is directed to the accuracy or completeness of a financial statement that has been filed pursuant to La. S.Ct. Rule XXXIX, and the Commission has determined that the complaint is not frivolous, the Commission shall mail the complaint by certified mail to the judge or justice of the peace who is the subject of the complaint. The judge or justice of the peace shall be asked to answer the complaint within fourteen business days after the complaint is received.1 A five-day extension may be granted for good cause. If the Commission finds in connection with a written answer that no violation of the financial disclosure requirements has occurred, no penalties shall be assessed against the person. If the Commission finds that the person may have failed to file a financial statement or may have failed to disclose or accurately disclose the required information, the Commission shall direct the Office of Special Counsel to prepare and process a formal charge and a hearing on the formal charge shall be held before a hearing officer.
D. A hearing on a formal charge shall be conducted before a hearing officer designated pursuant to La. Sup. Ct. Rule XXIII, Sec. 29(a). The hearing officer shall be selected for the hearing in accordance with La. Sup. Ct. Rule XXIII, Sec. 29(b), and the hearing shall be convened and conducted in accordance with La. Sup. Ct. Rule XXIII, Sec. 29.
E. The hearing will be limited to the following issues: (1) whether or not the person failed to file a financial statement; (2) whether or not the person failed to disclose or accurately disclose the required information; and/or (iii) whether the failure was willful and knowing.
F. Within fifteen days after the conclusion of the hearing, the hearing officer shall submit a report to the Commission that contains proposed findings of fact and, if applicable, conclusions of law. The hearing officer shall not include in the report a recommendation regarding discipline, sanctions, or penalties.
G. Notwithstanding the provisions of La. Sup. Ct. Rule XXIII, Sec. 29(d), the hearing officer shall not give the respondent judge and the Office of Special Counsel any more than five days after the completion of the hearing to submit briefs and proposed findings of fact and, if applicable, proposed conclusions of law.
H. If, after the Commission has considered the hearing officer’s report, the Commission decides that no violation of the financial disclosure requirements has occurred, the Commission shall issue a written determination to that effect, no penalties shall be assessed, and no recommendation shall be made to the Supreme Court.
I. If, after the Commission has considered the hearing officer’s report, the Commission determines that a person has failed to file a required financial disclosure statement, or has failed to disclose or accurately disclose the required information, the Commission shall file the record and a recommendation with the Supreme Court. The Commission shall recommend the imposition of civil penalties in accordance with La. Sup. Ct. Rule XXXIX, Sec. 4(F)(7) and shall also make a recommendation regarding whether or not the violation was willful and knowing.
J. When a non-incumbent candidate for elective judicial office fails to file a financial disclosure statement required by La. Sup. Ct. Rule XL, or omits any information required to be included in the financial disclosure statement, or the judicial administrator has reason to believe any information included in the financial disclosure statement is inaccurate, the matter shall proceed in accordance with the provisions of La. Sup. Ct. Rule XXXIX, Sec. 4 and with this rule.
K. If a non-incumbent candidate for elective judicial office either loses the election or withdraws his or her candidacy while a financial disclosure proceeding is pending before the judicial administrator, the Commission, or a hearing officer:
(1) the proceeding shall be transferred to the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board in accordance with the provisions La. Sup. Ct. Rule XL, Sec. 4(B), if the candidate is a lawyer, or
(2) the judicial administrator shall inform the Supreme Court, which shall assign a retired judge to conduct the hearing and report to the Supreme Court in accordance with the provisions of La. Sup. Ct. Rule XL, Sec. 4(C).
L. To the extent reasonably possible, all proceedings involving financial disclosure statements shall be handled on an expedited basis and shall take precedence over other matters.
M. To the extent this JCL Rule XVII at any time conflicts with La. Sup. Ct. Rule XXXIX or with La. Sup. Ct. Rule XL, the Supreme Court rule shall be controlling.
N. To the extent this rule conflicts with any other Commission rule, this rule shall be controlling.
1 As to submissions reviewed by the judicial administrator’s office, it is noted that this procedure is conducted by that office prior to referral to the Commission. See Sec. 4 of La. Sup. Ct. Rule XXXIX.