Professor Arthur Hellman Comments on Busy Year for Federal Judicial Discipline

Three high-profile cases involving complaints of misconduct by federal judges made the news in 2015, which is more than the norm. But Pitt Law Professor Arthur D. Hellman, an expert on federal judicial ethics, told the National Law Journal that the public shouldn’t worry about an "epidemic of judicial misconduct."

"You'd need to see a real outpouring to say something’s gone wrong in the federal judiciary," Hellman said.

The year also brought a revision of the judiciary’s rules governing the handling of misconduct complaints. The revised rules clearly spelled out for the first time that judges cannot retaliate against people who file complaints and that judges must cooperate with ethics investigations. Hellman said cooperation was already largely implied in the rules, but that the retaliation language was notable.

"It’s important to have that one stated in express terms in the rules. Not so much because I think judges would do that, but because it’s very, very important for people to know" that the judiciary will really protect people who in good faith provide information about misconduct or disability on the part of judges, Hellman said.

Read more in "Cleaning House: Courts Self-Police" in the National Law Journal.

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