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I_JudicialDiscipline_2022A 08/10/2022 09:34:15 AM Committee Summary

PUBLIC
STAFF SUMMARY OF MEETING
INTERIM COMMITTEE  LEGISLATIVE INTERIM COMMITTEE ON JUDICIAL DISCIPLINE
Date 08/10/2022
Attendance
Bacon X
Gardner X
Gonzales X
Lynch X
Moreno X
Van Winkle X
Carver X
Weissman X
Time 09:34:15 AM to 05:33:35 PM
Place SCR 357
This Meeting was called to order by Weissman
This Report was prepared by Juliann Jenson
Hearing Items Action Taken
Welcome and Introductions Committee Discussion Only
Presentation about Judicial Discipline Structures and Alternative Approaches Committee Discussion Only
Presentation from the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System Committee Discussion Only
Presentation about the Colorado Judicial Branch Investigation Report and Assessment of Workplace Culture Committee Discussion Only
Presentation from the Colorado Judicial Institute Committee Discussion Only
Presentation from the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault Committee Discussion Only
Presentation from Colorado Bar Associations Committee Discussion Only
Recommendations from the Judicial Branch and the Commission on Judicial Discipline Committee Discussion Only
Perspectives and Recommendations about Judicial Discipline Committee Discussion Only
Public Testimony Committee Discussion Only
Committee Discussion: Review of Recommendations about Judicial Discipline Per Senate Bill 22-201 Committee Discussion Only
Logistics and Next Steps Committee Discussion Only

Welcome and Introductions - Committee Discussion Only


09:34:38 AM  

Representative Weissman, Chair, made opening remarks and recapped the agenda. The committee agenda may be viewed here:  https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/images/committees/agenda_-_judicial_discipline.pdf.



Presentation from the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System - Committee Discussion Only


09:39:01 AM  
Rebecca Kourlis, founding Executive Director,
and Brittany Kauffman, Interim CEO, from the Institute for the Advancement
of the American Legal System (IAALS), presented about judicial discipline.
  Ms. Kourlis started the presentation and discussed transparency,
two-tiered and one-tiered judicial discipline systems, and the composition
of final deciding bodies.

The presentation was paused to allow for Professor Geyh to discuss judicial
discipline structures and design.



Presentation about Judicial Discipline Structures and Alternative Approaches - Committee Discussion Only


09:51:41 AM  

Charles Geyh, Professor of Law at Indiana University, introduced himself and discussed his background.  He provided a brief history of judicial discipline, including the evolution of standards of conducts and judicial system accountability.  He further explained judicial discipline system structure and noted that it is common for state supreme courts to have the final say.  He provided examples of other methods when a state supreme court justice is the subject of a judicial discipline case. 

He next discussed transparency and confidentiality and the role of non-lawyers in judicial discipline. 

 

10:12:20 AM  

Committee members asked questions about the judicial discipline process in Illinois.  Discussion ensued about the Pennsylvania model, and Professor Geyh emphasized keeping supreme court justices out of  judicial discipline proceedings when it is about one of them.   Discussion continued about the final decision making authority, alternative structures, and membership. 

10:24:15 AM  

Committee members inquired about the point in which complaints or rulings become public.   The committee discussed access to information and discovery-related issues. 

 

 



Presentation from the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System - Committee Discussion Only


10:37:44 AM  

Ms. Kourlis resumed her presentation and further discussed training, employment climate surveys, and an ombuds position to triage complaints. 

Ms. Kauffman highlighted key recommendations about judicial discipline commission structure,  including independence, impartiality, composition, and funding.  She also outlined rule-making authority and online accessibility.  She further discussed the complaint process, confidentiality, transparency, and education and outreach. 

 

 

 

 

10:52:20 AM  

Committee members asked questions about the supreme court maintaining a leadership role in overseeing judicial conduct.  Further discussion followed about separating the ultimate adjudicative function from the supreme court when it is about one of them.  Additional questions were raised about the ombuds position, and the pros and cons of one and two- tier judicial discipline structures. 

11:20:50 AM  

Committee discussion ensued about harrassment, human resources, and workplace culture.  Further questions were asked about the qualifications of an ombudsperson. 

The IAALS report may be read here in its entirety:  https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/images/committees/18-iaals-104_judicial_discipline_report_r2.indd_.pdf



Presentation about the Colorado Judicial Branch Investigation Report and Assessment of Workplace Culture - Committee Discussion Only


11:34:37 AM  

Elizabeth Rita and Anne McCord from the Investigations Law Group (ILG) presented an overview of the investigation they conducted about workplace culture in the Colorado Judicial Branch.  They discussed methodology and findings.  They raised concerns employees had about reporting misconduct and subsequent retaliation.  Transparency, shared cultural values, employee complaints, and absence of feedback were also discussed. 

Committee members asked questions about the complaint process, judicial discipline, and human resources.  Further inquiries were made about the ombudsperson position.  The investigators mentioned a complaint reporting tool. 

11:55:54 AM  

Committee discussion ensued about the complaint process and follow-up.  Further questions were asked about data collection and the ombuds position. 

 

12:09:32 PM  

The conversation returned to the above-referenced reporting tool and retention of complaints and data.  Committee members asked questions about criteria to escalate complaints.  Discussion continued about training and education. 

12:24:30 PM  

The investigators recommended the continuation of culture surveys in the Judicial Department.  Committee members asked questions about investigating situations in which no complaint was filed. 

12:30:41 PM  

Steven Vasconcellos, Judicial Branch State Court Administrator, responded to the ILG report and presentation. He provided the committee with an update on the implementation of the suggested recommendations as outlined in the report.  



Presentation from the Colorado Judicial Institute - Committee Discussion Only


12:44:40 PM  

Jeffrey Rupp and Marilyn Chappell from the Colorado Judicial Institute outlined judicial discipline recommendations to the committee. They recommended caution in amending the constitution.  Committee members asked questions the current judicial discipline system and what works.    



Presentation from the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault - Committee Discussion Only


01:41:39 PM  

Elizabeth Newman from the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA) discussed recommendations to improve services and support for complainants.  Committee members asked questions about confidentiality, anonymous complaints, and other ways to be more responsive to complainants.  



A letter was read into the record from an individual who described her experience after making a complaint against a judge.  The letter may be read here:  https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/images/committees/jdc_victim_letter_for_hearing.docx_0.pdf.



The recommendations from CCASA are located here:  https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/images/committees/ccasa_judicial_discipline_recommendations_final.pdf

 



Presentation from Colorado Bar Associations - Committee Discussion Only


02:18:16 PM  

Allison Connaughty, Emma Garrison, and Ariana Busby, Colorado Women's Bar Association (CWBA) members, presented recommendations to improve Colorado's judicial discipline process.   Their recommendations may be read at the following links:

 

 

02:39:08 PM  

Daniel Kay , El Paso County Bar Association, enforced recommendations and findings from the CWBA. and distributed additional comments (Attachment A). 



Recommendations from the Judicial Branch and the Commission on Judicial Discipline - Committee Discussion Only


02:45:50 PM  

Steve Vaconcellos, Judicial Branch State Court Administrator, and Elizabeth Espinosa Krupa and David Prince from the Commission on Judicial Discipline discussed agreed upon judicial discipline recommendations.  They referenced documents and letters in response from the Judicial Branch and the Commission that are located on the committee's website:  https://leg.colorado.gov/content/ijudicialdiscipline2022a-0.

They discussed confidentiality and transparency and exceptions for complainants.  A pool of special masters to review cases involving supreme court justices was next discussed.  Other areas of agreement included commission member terms, victims rights, and subpoena powers.

 

03:02:18 PM  
Committee members asked questions about
implementing rules or statutes to further recommendations.  Further
discussion ensued about ceasing confidentiality in judicial misconduct
proceedings, as well as formal and informal sanctions.  Conversation
followed about tracking metrics and repeated cases of misconduct.


The presenters discussed areas in which
they did not agree, including duty of disclosure and enforcement..


 

 
03:32:33 PM  

Additional areas of disagreement were explained by the presenters, including disqualification standards and rule-making authority. 

Committee members asked questions about accountability and one and two-tier structures.  The conversation turned to special masters for supreme court judicial misconduct and how to best randomly select them.  Committee members inquired about de novo appellate reviews. 

 

04:06:32 PM  

Questions were raised by committee members about anonymous complaints.



Perspectives and Recommendations about Judicial Discipline - Committee Discussion Only


04:10:18 PM  

Chris Ryan, former Judicial Branch State Court Administrator, shared his perspectives and recommendations concerning the judicial discipline process in Colorado.  His remarks may be read here:  https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/images/committees/chris_ryan_testimony.pdf

Committee members asked questions about the governing structure at the Office of the State Court Administrator.  Discussion ensued about an objective panel of arbiters to rule on judicial misconduct cases involving a supreme court justice. 

 

 

 



Public Testimony - Committee Discussion Only


04:39:25 PM  

Luanne Fleming, representing Families Against Court Embezzlement Unethical Standards, testified about abusive courts and judges.

Maralee McLean, representing self, testified about the judiciary.

Robin Austin, representing Families Against Court Embezzlement Unethical Standards, testified about judicial discipline.

Rabbi Jacob Bellinsky, representing self, testified about family courts.



Committee Discussion: Review of Recommendations about Judicial Discipline Per Senate Bill 22-201 - Committee Discussion Only


05:17:49 PM  

Chair Weissman discussed the bill draft request process. 

Conrad Imel, Office of Legislative Legal Services, explained timelines and the level of information needed to begin drafting. 

Committee members asked Mr. Imel for a legal opinion concerning the state constitution and confidentiality of judicial discipline proceedings.  



Logistics and Next Steps - Committee Discussion Only



05:33:35 PM   The committee adjourned.






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