< Back to H.R. 2739 (105th Congress, 1997–1998)

Text of the Judicial Conduct Reform Act of 1997

This bill was introduced on October 24, 1997, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted. The text of the bill below is as of Oct 24, 1997 (Introduced).

Source: GPO

HR 2739 IH

105th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 2739

To amend title 28, United States Code, to create a Judicial Conduct Board and a Court of Judicial Discipline to investigate and make determinations with respect to complaints regarding judicial discipline.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

October 24, 1997

Mr. MCDADE introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary


A BILL

To amend title 28, United States Code, to create a Judicial Conduct Board and a Court of Judicial Discipline to investigate and make determinations with respect to complaints regarding judicial discipline.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ‘Judicial Conduct Reform Act of 1997’.

SEC. 2. REFORM OF JUDICIAL DISCIPLINE SYSTEM.

    (a) CREATION OF JUDICIAL CONDUCT BOARD AND COURT OF JUDICIAL DISCIPLINE-

      (1) IN GENERAL- Chapter 17 of title 28, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:

‘Sec. 378. Judicial Conduct Board

    ‘(a) ESTABLISHMENT AND COMPOSITION- There is established in the judicial branch a Judicial Conduct Board (hereafter in this section referred to as the ‘Board’).

    ‘(b) FUNCTIONS- The Board shall perform the functions vested in it under section 372(c).

    ‘(c) COMPOSITION AND TERMS-

      ‘(1) COMPOSITION- The Board shall be composed of 12 members as follows:

        ‘(A) 3 judges, other than senior judges, as follows:

          ‘(i) 1 circuit judge, and 1 bankruptcy judge or magistrate judge, each of whom shall be appointed by the Chief Justice.

          ‘(ii) 1 district judge who shall be appointed by the President.

        ‘(B) 3 members of the bar of the Supreme Court, other than justices or judges, 2 of whom shall be appointed by the Chief Justice, and 1 of whom shall be appointed by the President.

        ‘(C) 6 persons, other than lawyers, 3 of whom shall be appointed by the Chief Justice, and 3 of whom shall be appointed by the President.

      ‘(2) TERMS- The members of the Board shall serve for terms of 4 years, except that of the members first appointed--

        ‘(A) 1 member appointed by the Chief Justice and 2 members appointed by the President shall each be appointed for a term of 1 year,

        ‘(B) 2 members appointed by the Chief Justice and 1 member appointed by the President shall each be appointed for a term of 2 years, and

        ‘(C) 1 member appointed by the Chief Justice and 2 members appointed by the President shall each be appointed for a term of 3 years,

      as designated at the time of their appointment.

      ‘(3) CONDITIONS- Membership of a judge on the Board shall terminate if the member ceases to hold the judicial position that qualified the member for the appointment. Membership on the Board shall terminate if the member attains a position that would have rendered the member ineligible for appointment at the time of appointment. A vacancy on the Board shall be filled in the manner in which the original appointment was made. No member of the Board may serve for more than 4 consecutive years but may be reappointed after a lapse of 1 year. No member of the Board may serve on the Court of Judicial Discipline at the same time.

    ‘(d) MEETINGS- The President shall convene the first meeting of the Board. At that meeting and annually thereafter, the Board shall elect a chairperson. The Board shall act only with the concurrence of a majority of its members.

    ‘(e) COMPENSATION-

      ‘(1) BASIC PAY-

        ‘(A) RATES OF PAY- Except as provided in subparagraph (B), members of the Board shall each be entitled to receive the daily equivalent of the annual rate of basic pay payable for level IV of the Executive Schedule for each day (including travel time) during which they are engaged in the actual performance of duties vested in the Board.

        ‘(B) PROHIBITION OF COMPENSATION OF FEDERAL EMPLOYEES- Members of the Board

who are full-time officers or employees of the United States may not receive additional pay, allowances, or benefits by reason of their service on the Board.

      ‘(2) TRAVEL EXPENSES- Each member shall receive travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, in accordance with sections 5702 and 5703 of title 5.

    ‘(f) PERSONNEL- The Board may appoint such personnel as may be necessary to carry out its functions.

    ‘(g) ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES- The Director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts shall provide to the Board such administrative services as the Board requires to carry out its functions.

‘Sec. 379. Court of Judicial Discipline

    ‘(a) ESTABLISHMENT AND COMPOSITION- There is established a Court of Judicial Discipline (hereafter in this section referred to as the ‘Court’).

    ‘(b) FUNCTIONS- The Court shall perform the functions vested in it under section 372(c). The Court shall prescribe rules for the conduct of its proceedings.

    ‘(c) COMPOSITION AND TERMS-

      ‘(1) COMPOSITION- The Court shall be composed of 8 members as follows:

        ‘(A) 4 judges, other than senior judges, as follows:

          ‘(i) 1 circuit judge and 1 bankruptcy judge, each of whom shall be appointed by the Chief Justice.

          ‘(ii) 1 district judge and 1 magistrate judge, each of whom shall be appointed by the President.

        ‘(B) 2 members of the bar of the Supreme Court, other than justices or judges, 1 of whom shall be appointed by the Chief Justice, and 1 of whom shall be appointed by the President.

        ‘(C) 2 persons, other than lawyers, 1 of whom shall be appointed by the Chief Justice, and 1 of whom shall be appointed by the President.

      ‘(2) TERMS- The members of the Court shall serve for terms of 4 years, except that of the members first appointed--

        ‘(A) 1 member appointed by the Chief Justice and 1 member appointed by the President shall be appointed for a term of 1 year,

        ‘(B) 1 member appointed by the Chief Justice and 1 member appointed by the President shall be appointed for a term of 2 years, and

        ‘(C) 1 member appointed by the Chief Justice and 1 member appointed by the President shall be appointed for a term of 3 years,

      as designated at the time of their appointment.

      ‘(3) CONDITIONS- Membership of a judge on the Court shall terminate if the member ceases to hold the judicial position that qualified the member for the appointment. Membership on the Court shall terminate if the member attains a position that would have rendered the member ineligible for appointment at the time of appointment. A vacancy on the Court shall be filled in the manner in which the original appointment was made. No member of the Court may serve for more than 4 consecutive years but may be reappointed after a lapse of 1 year. No member of the Court may serve on the Judicial Conduct Board at the same time.

    ‘(d) COMPENSATION-

      ‘(1) BASIC PAY-

        ‘(A) RATES OF PAY- Except as provided in subparagraph (B), members of the Court shall each be entitled to receive the daily equivalent of the annual rate of basic pay payable for level IV of the Executive Schedule for each day (including travel time) during which they are engaged in the actual performance of duties vested in the Court.

        ‘(B) PROHIBITION OF COMPENSATION OF FEDERAL EMPLOYEES- Members of the Court who are full-time officers or employees of the United States may not receive additional pay, allowances, or benefits by reason of their service on the Court.

      ‘(2) TRAVEL EXPENSES- Each member shall receive travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, in accordance with sections 5702 and 5703 of title 5.

    ‘(f) PERSONNEL- The Court may appoint such personnel as may be necessary to carry out its functions.

    ‘(g) ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES- The Director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts shall provide to the Court such administrative services as the Court requires to carry out its functions.’.

      (2) CONFORMING AMENDMENT- The table of sections for chapter 17 of title 28, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new items:

      ‘378. Judicial Conduct Board.

      ‘379. Court of Judicial Discipline.’.

    (b) JUDICIAL DISCIPLINE PROCEDURE- (1) Subsection (c) of section 372 of title 28, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:

    ‘(c)(1) Any person alleging that a circuit, district, bankruptcy, or magistrate judge, or a judge of the Court of Federal Claims or of the Court of International Trade has engaged in conduct prejudicial to the effective and efficient administration of the business of the courts, or alleging that such a judge is unable to discharge all the duties of the office by reason of mental or physical disability, may file with the Judicial Conduct Board established in section 378 (hereafter in this subsection referred to as the ‘Board’) a written complaint containing a brief statement of the facts constituting such conduct. The Board may, on the basis of information available to the Board, initiate a complaint for purposes of this subsection. The Board shall promptly transmit a copy of the complaint to the judge whose conduct is the subject of the complaint.

    ‘(2) The Board shall conduct an investigation of the charges in each complaint and determine whether there is probable cause to file formal charges against the judge whose conduct is the subject of the complaint. If the Board finds probable cause, the Board shall present the case in support of the charges with the Court of Judicial Discipline established in section 379 (hereafter in this subsection referred to as the ‘Court’). If the Board does not find probable cause, the Board shall dismiss the complaint. The Board shall promptly notify the judge whose conduct is the subject of the complaint of the Board’s action on the complaint.

    ‘(3) In carrying out its functions, the Board may issue subpoenas to compel testimony under oath of witnesses, including the judge who is the subject of the investigation, and to compel the production of documents, books, accounts, and other records relevant to the investigation.

    ‘(4) Complaints filed with the Board or initiated by the Board shall be confidential. Statements, testimony, documents, records, or other information or evidence acquired by the Board shall be confidential. The Board shall apprise the judge whose conduct is the subject of a complaint of the nature and content of the complaint.

    ‘(5) The Board shall prescribe rules for the conduct of proceedings under this subsection as it considers appropriate, including the processing of petitions for review. Such rules shall contain provisions requiring that--

      ‘(A) the judge whose conduct is the subject of the complaint be afforded an opportunity to appear (in person or by counsel) at proceedings conducted by the Board, to present oral and documentary evidence, to compel the attendance of witnesses or the production of documents, to cross-examine witnesses, and to present argument orally or in writing; and

      ‘(B) the complainant be afforded an opportunity to appear at proceedings conducted by the Board, if the Board concludes that the complainant could offer substantial information.

    ‘(6) The Board shall issue a report on its determination on each complaint under this subsection, together with a description of its investigation.

    ‘(7) Upon the filing with the Court by the Board of formal charges against a judge, the Court shall promptly schedule a hearing or hearings to determine whether a sanction should be imposed on the judge under this subsection. Formal charges filed with the Court shall be available to the public. All hearings conducted by the Court shall be public proceedings conducted pursuant to the rules adopted by the Court and in accordance with the principles of due process and the rules of evidence. Parties appearing before the Court shall have a right to discovery pursuant to the rules adopted by the Court and shall have the right to subpoena witnesses and to compel the production of documents, accounts, records, and other records that are relevant to the proceedings. The Board shall have the burden of proving the charges by clear and convincing evidence. All decisions of the Court shall be in writing and shall contain findings of fact and conclusions of law.

    ‘(8) A decision of the Court may order such action to be taken with respect to the judge whose conduct is the subject of the Court proceedings as is appropriate to assure the effective and expeditious administration of the business of the courts, including, but not limited to, the following:

      ‘(A) In the case of a magistrate judge, directing the chief judge of the district of the magistrate judge to take such action as the Court considers appropriate.

      ‘(B) In the case of a judge appointed to hold office during good behavior, certifying disability of the judge pursuant to the procedures and standards provided under subsection (b) of this section.

      ‘(C) Requesting that any such judge appointed to hold office during good behavior voluntarily retire, with the provision that the length of service requirements under section 371 do not apply.

      ‘(D) In the case of a judge other than a judge appointed to hold office during good behavior, ordering that, on a temporary basis for a time certain, no further cases be assigned to that judge.

      ‘(E) Censuring or reprimanding the judge by means of private communication or public pronouncement.

      ‘(F) Ordering such other action as the Court considers appropriate under the circumstances, except that under no circumstances may the Court order the removal of a judge appointed to hold office during good behavior.

    Each decision of the Court shall be made available to the public.

    ‘(9) A judge who is the subject of proceedings under this subsection who is adversely affected by an order of the Court shall have the right to appeal that order to the Supreme Court of the United States. On appeal, the Supreme Court may set aside the order of the Court only if--

      ‘(A) the order is not in accordance with law;

      ‘(B) the findings of fact are clearly erroneous; or

      ‘(C) any sanction imposed by the order is unlawful.

    ‘(10) An order of the Court that dismisses a complaint against a judge may be appealed by the Board to the Supreme Court, but the appeal shall be limited to questions of law.

    ‘(11) In any case in which the Court determines, on the basis of a complaint and any investigation under this subsection, or on the basis of information otherwise available to the Court, that a judge appointed to hold office during good behavior may have engaged in conduct which might constitute 1 or more grounds for impeachment, the Court shall so certify and transmit the determination and the record of proceedings to the House of Representatives for whatever action the House of Representatives considers to be necessary. Upon receipt of the determination in the House of Representatives, the Clerk of the House of Representatives shall make the determination available to the public.

    ‘(12) No judge whose conduct is the subject of an investigation or proceeding under this subsection shall serve on the Board, on the Court, on a judicial council, or on the Judicial Conference established under section 331 of this title, until all related proceedings under this subsection have been finally terminated.

    ‘(13) No person shall be granted the right to intervene as amicus curiae in any proceeding before the Board or the Court under this subsection.

    ‘(14) Upon the request of a judge whose conduct is the subject of a complaint under this subsection, the Board may, if it dismisses the complaint, recommend that the Director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts award reimbursement, from the funds appropriated to the Federal Judiciary, for those reasonable expenses, including attorneys’ fees, incurred by that judge during the investigation which would not have been incurred but for the requirements of this subsection.’.

SEC. 3. CONFORMING AMENDMENT.

    Section 331 of title 28, United States Code, is amended in the fourth paragraph by striking ‘The Conference is authorized to exercise the authority provided in section 372(c)’ and all that follows through the end of the paragraph.