The Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability reviews complaints about Oregon state judges and justices of the peace and investigates when the alleged conduct might violate the state’s Code of Judicial Conduct or Article VII (amended), Section 8 of the state constitution. If the Commission files formal charges, a public hearing is held. The Commission then makes a recommendation to the Supreme Court which could be dismissal of the charges or censure, suspension or removal of the judge. Only the Supreme Court can make the final decision of dismissal or discipline of the judge.
The Commission also investigates complaints referred by the Chief Justice that a judge has a disability which significantly interferes with the judge’s job performance. If the disability appears to be temporary, the Commission may hold a private hearing although the judge can request a public hearing. Again, the Supreme Court makes the final decision.
The Commission cannot change a judge’s decision in a case or the case outcome. It has no jurisdiction over arbitrators, mediators, administrative law judges, hearing officers, municipal (city) court judges, or federal judges. Complaints about municipal court judges should be sent to the city council or the mayor in the city where the municipal court is located, because the Commission lacks jurisdiction over them.
The Commission strives to provide information for the public about its process, jurisdiction, and performance. It has performance measures and annual reports. Information about specific complaints remains confidential under ORS 1.440, unless formal charges are filed. Press releases are issued 14 days before the public hearing on formal charges.
Commission members are volunteers and serve 4-year terms. They include
- Three public members, appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate
- Three lawyers, appointed by the Oregon State Bar Board of Governors
- Three judges, appointed by the Supreme Court.
If you want to file a complaint, please use this complaint form (PDF) and follow the instructions it provides. If you want more information, you may call, write, or email the Commission. The American Judicature Society website also has comprehensive information on issues involving judicial ethics and discipline.