Professor Arthur Hellman’s Recommendations Adopted in Revision of Federal Judicial Misconduct Rules

Two recommendations by Pitt Law Professor Arthur D. Hellman were adopted by the federal judiciary in its revision of the rules governing the handling of misconduct complaints against federal judges, the Wall Street Journal reported. Both recommendations were designed to promote greater transparency in the misconduct process.

Under the new rules, “courts will publish the outcome of misconduct complaints against judges on their websites.” Hellman “has long advocated for publishing misconduct orders online,” the Journal said.

“As a practical matter, having them only as paper copies in a clerk’s office meant that they were invisible,” said Hellman. “This is certainly a step forward.”

In addition, the judiciary relaxed the standard for disclosing a misconduct investigation. Previously, a chief judge could divulge the existence of misconduct proceedings only in “extraordinary circumstances” to maintain public confidence in the judiciary’s ability to police its own. The new rule permits disclosure “when necessary or appropriate.” Hellman had sought this change, too.

“When an allegation becomes public, chief judges will be able to respond to media queries with something more than silence or a reference to confidentiality rules,” he said.

Read more in "Decisions in Judicial Misconduct Cases to be Posted Online" in the Wall Street Journal.

Read more in "The Federal Judicial Conduct and Disability System: Unfinished Business for Congress and for the Judiciary" on SSRN.

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