Judicial Conduct & Disability

Codes of Conduct and related sources of authority provide standards of behavior for judges and others in the federal court family. The Judicial Conduct and Disability Act allows complaints alleging that a federal judge has engaged in “conduct prejudicial to the effective and expeditious administration of the business of the courts” or has become, by reason of a temporary or permanent condition, “unable to discharge the duties” of the judicial office.

Congress has created a procedure that permits any person to file a complaint in the courts about the behavior of federal judges—but not about the decisions federal judges make in deciding cases. Almost all complaints in recent years have been dismissed because they do not follow the law about such complaints. The law says that complaints about judges’ decisions and complaints with no evidence to support them must be dismissed. The complaint form is at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals web site. If you are a litigant in a case and believe the judge made a wrong decision—even a very wrong decision—you may not use this procedure to complain about the decision. An attorney can explain the rights you have as a litigant to seek review of a judicial decision.