Widespread judicial misconduct continues to erode public trust in the judiciary, and the public should know how the DOJ is tackling these issues. CREW is suing the DOJ following their failure to release judicial misconduct complaints in response to previous requests.
To get a sense of the breadth of this judicial ethics crisis, The Wall Street Journal revealed in 2021 that 131 judges had violated judicial ethics rules by owning the stock of a litigant in cases they heard. Additionally, it uncovered that since 2010, there were at least 685 cases in which judges failed to properly recuse themselves when overseeing cases involving companies whose stock they or their family held.
Given the hostile attitude towards addressing judicial misconduct by certain Supreme Court Justices—especially Chief Justice John Roberts, who called the instances cited in the WSJ report “isolated violations” that were the result of “unintentional oversights”—it’s crucial to fully and transparently investigate all possible judicial misconduct, since the judiciary cannot be relied on to conduct oversight on itself.
The released records would reveal the contents of judicial misconduct complaints filed, as well as any referrals that DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility recommended to judicial disciplinary authorities. Alongside other reforms like creating a binding Code of Conduct for the Supreme Court, banning judicial stock ownership and passing other legislation that would limit judicial conflicts of interest, transparency around past allegations of misconduct will help the judiciary make strides towards long overdue accountability.