“As judicial commissions were being established in each state, concern grew over the need for more effective disciplinary controls for federal judges or at least some procedure for complaints against judges for misconduct. The result was the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act of 1980, which expanded the procedures for dealing with judicial misconduct by establishing for the first time a procedure for formal complaints of misconduct against individual federal judges but not a separate investigation or adjudicatory commission or agency. Thus, since 1980 at the federal level, the chief judge for each circuit has been given limited responsibility for disciplinary oversight over all federal judges in the circuit. The statute provides for written complaints against any judge in a circuit to be filed with the clerk of the relevant court of appeals. The chief judge of the circuit is required to screen the complaints. Unless he or she determines that adequate corrective measures have already been taken, the judge must either dismiss it or refer it to a special committee comprising the chief judge and an equal number of circuit and district judges. The committee investigates the charges and reports its findings to the judicial council for the circuit, which has ultimate authority to take corrective action, including censure and reprimand, but not removal.”

Source: John O. Haley. “The Civil, Criminal and Disciplinary Liability of Judges.” The American Journal of Comparative Law 54 (2006): 281-291.

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