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Judicial Discipline Procedures And Confidentiality

Submitting to the registered electors of the state of Colorado an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning judicial discipline, and, in connection therewith, establishing an independent judicial discipline adjudicative board, setting standards for judicial review of a discipline case, and clarifying when discipline proceedings become public.
2023 Regular Session
Courts & Judicial
Bill Summary

The concurrent resolution amends section 23 of article VI of the Colorado constitution as it relates to judicial discipline. The resolution permits the general assembly to provide in law the process for the supreme court to select the judge members of the Colorado commission on judicial disciple (commission). The resolution specifies that the commission may dismiss complaints and repeals the commission's authority to request appointment of special masters.

The resolution repeals the commission's authority to order formal judicial disciplinary proceedings be held before the commission and creates an independent adjudicative board (board) to conduct formal proceedings and hear appeals of the commission's orders imposing informal sanctions. The board is comprised of 4 district court judges, 4 attorneys, and 4 citizens. The resolution prohibits a member of the commission from being appointed to the board and prohibits a member of the board from being appointed to the commission. A randomly selected panel of the board (panel), comprised of one judge, one attorney, and one citizen, conducts formal proceedings in a case. The resolution permits the panel to dismiss a complaint, impose informal sanctions, or impose formal sanctions.

The resolution sets the standards of review to be used by the supreme court when it reviews a panel's decision. The resolution requires a tribunal of 7 randomly selected court of appeals and district judges to review the panel's decision when: The proceedings involve a complaint against a Colorado supreme court justice; a Colorado supreme court justice, a staff member to a justice, or a family member of a justice is a complainant or a material witness in the proceeding; or more than 2 justices have recused themselves from the proceeding. The tribunal reviews the panel's decision in the same manner and using the same standards of review as the supreme court does when it reviews panel decisions.

Under existing law, commission proceedings are confidential until the commission files recommendations with the supreme court. The resolution makes proceedings public at the commencement of formal proceedings but clarifies that appeals of informal remedial sanctions to the board are confidential. The resolution clarifies that a person is absolutely immune from any action for defamation based on papers filed with or testimony before the commission, adjudicative board, supreme court, or a tribunal. The resolution clarifies the circumstances in which the commission may release otherwise confidential information.

The resolution creates a rule-making committee to adopt rules for the judicial discipline process. The rule-making committee consists of 4 members appointed by the supreme court, 4 members appointed by the board, 4 members appointed by the commission, and one victim's advocate appointed by the governor. The rules must include the standards and degree of proof to be applied in judicial discipline proceedings; confidential reporting procedures; and complainant rights. The Colorado rules of evidence and Colorado rules of civil procedure apply to proceedings before a panel until and unless the rule-making committee promulgates rules specifically governing panel proceedings.
(Note: This summary applies to this concurrent resolution as adopted.)




Bill Text

The effective date for bills enacted without a safety clause is August 7, 2024, if the General Assembly adjourns sine die on May 8, 2024, unless otherwise specified. Details