The Commission can investigate judges of the New York State Unified Court System, including judges who sit in the following courts:
The Commission cannot investigate:
[Back to Top]
The Commission can investigate a wide range of ethical misconduct that damages public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. Common issues include:
No. The Commission cannot transfer your case to a different judge or require the judge hearing your case to disqualify herself.
No. Commission investigations take time and there is no procedure for an expedited or emergency investigation. Most importantly, even if the Commission finds the judge committed misconduct, that determination will not transfer your case to a new judge and will not change any ruling the judge made in your case. You should consult a lawyer to discuss your potential remedies.
No. The Commission is not an appellate court and cannot reverse any ruling made in your case. You should consult an attorney about your right to appeal. You can find more information about filing an appeal at http://nycourts.gov/courthelp/AfterCourt/appeals.shtml.
[Back to Top]
No. The Commission is not permitted to give legal advice.
Anyone can file a complaint. You do not need to be an attorney.
The Judiciary Law requires that complaints be signed and in writing. You can file a complaint online, print out our complaint form or send us a detailed letter complaint.
Yes, you can include any documents you think are relevant as an attachment to your complaint. Please do not send original records. The Commission cannot return any documents you send us with your complaint.
No, but you should send your complaint as soon as possible. If you delay sending us your complaint, it may affect our ability to do a complete investigation. Please note that the Commission has no authority to investigate a former judge.
[Back to Top]
Commission staff is not permitted to offer advice about whether the Commission will authorize an investigation into your complaint. The best course of action is to file your complaint, which would allow the Commission members to review it.
The Commission reviews and applies its expertise to each complaint individually, whether or not the complainant is confident that the alleged behavior would constitute misconduct. If you are unsure, you should file your complaint and give the Commission the opportunity to decide.
Yes. However, because we cannot contact the complainant to obtain additional details and corroborating evidence, it is often difficult to investigate anonymous complaints and the Commission is very cautious about proceeding without specific and verifiable information. A mere accusation will not suffice. An anonymous complaint should include detailed information about the alleged misconduct that may be verified, such as the names of witnesses who may have seen the misconduct, case names and the names of the parties or lawyers if the alleged misconduct occurred in connection with a court case, relevant dates and places, and as specific a description as possible of the alleged misconduct. If investigation of an anonymous complaint were authorized, the Commission's Administrator would summarize and sign it, according to statute.
You can find information about how to file a complaint against a New York attorney here: http://ww2.nycourts.gov/attorneys/grievance/complaints.shtml
You can find information about how to file a complaint against a federal judge here: http://www.uscourts.gov/RulesAndPolicies/ConductAndDisability/JudicialConductDisability.aspx
The Commission reviews each new complaint and makes an initial decision whether to investigate or dismiss the complaint. Under the law, all Commission proceedings are confidential.
If the Commission authorizes an investigation, the Administrator assigns the complaint to a staff attorney, who works with investigative staff. Witnesses may be interviewed and court records may be examined. The judge may be asked to respond in writing to the allegations or to appear and testify under oath.
If the Commission finds after an investigation that the circumstances warrant, it will direct its Administrator to serve the judge with a Formal Written Complaint containing specific charges of misconduct. The Commission will appoint a referee to conduct a formal hearing and report proposed findings.
The Commission will review the findings of the Referee and, after hearing argument from the judge, her counsel and Commission staff, will make a determination whether misconduct has occurred.
If the Commission determines that a judge has committed judicial misconduct, it may direct that the judge be privately cautioned, publicly admonished, publicly censured, removed from judicial office or retired for disability.
If you have provided your name and address you will receive a letter acknowledging that we have received your complaint.
Because all Commission proceedings are confidential, Commission staff cannot discuss the progress of an investigation unless it is necessary to contact you for additional information or to request that you testify at a hearing.
When the matter is concluded, the Judiciary Law requires that the Commission notify a complainant of its final disposition.
It’s not possible to estimate how long it will take for the Commission to complete an investigation. Some investigations are relatively simple, while others require interviews of numerous witnesses and extensive document review.
If the Commission authorizes a Formal Written Complaint, the confidential hearing process, which includes live testimony, preparation of transcripts, briefs to the Referee, a Referee’s report, and briefs to and argument before the Commission, can take a significant amount of time.
No. A Commission determination to dismiss a complaint is final. See Diaz v New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct, 26 NY3d 949 (2015); Mantell v New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct, 277 AD2d 96 (1st Dept 2000).
[Back to Top]
Perhaps. If the Commission decides to investigate your complaint, the judge may be asked to respond to the allegations you made. In that case, the judge will be given a copy of the complaint.