August 24, 2019

Colorado Rules of Judicial Discipline Amended in Rule Change 2017(03)

On Wednesday, April 26, 2017, the Colorado State Judicial Branch released Rule Change 2017(03), amending the Colorado Rules of Judicial Discipline. The rules were amended on April 20, 2017, and will become effective on July 1, 2017.

The rule changes were quite extensive. A redline is available here.  Several definitions were added to Rule 2, “Definitions,” and many other rules in Part A were changed, including Rule 4, “Jurisdiction and Powers,” Rule 5, “Grounds for Discipline,” Rule 6.5, “Confidentiality and Privilege,” and more. Part B was amended to change the title of the Part from “Preliminary Proceedings” to “Informal Proceedings,” and the rule changes in Part B were significant. There were minor changes to Part C, “Disability Proceedings.”

For a redline of Rule Change 2017(03), click here. For all of the Colorado Supreme Court’s adopted and proposed rule changes, click here.

Colorado Rules of Judicial Discipline Amended by Colorado Supreme Court

On Friday, December 12, 2014, the Colorado Supreme Court announced Rule Change 2014(16), amending the Colorado Rules of Judicial Discipline. The rule change was adopted and effective December 10, 2014.

The rule changes were extensive and covered many of the rules. Significant changes were made to the rules regarding review of complaints, investigation, determination, statement of charges, and many others. For a redline of the changes, click here.

UPDATED: Colorado Supreme Court Amends Several Rules of Judicial Discipline

Editor’s Note: On June 20, 2012, the Colorado Supreme Court announced that a different rule change will be categorized as Rule Change 2012(06). This rule change will now be categorized as 2012(07). Click here to review the redline changes (still labeled as 2012(06)) and click here to review a clean copy of the finalized Rules of Judicial Conduct (labeled as 2012(07)) .

The Colorado Supreme Court has amended several Rules of Judicial Discipline. Many changes were made to the rules, including some renumbering. Affected rules include:

  • Rule 4. Jurisdiction and Powers
  • Rule 5. Grounds for Discipline
  • Rule 18.5. Special Masters [formerly Rule 24]
  • Rule 21.5. Discovery
  • Rule 33. Record of Proceedings
  • Rule 33.5.  Disability Proceedings
  • Rule 36.5. Conviction of a Crime
  • Rule 37. Recommendation and Notice
  • Rule 40. Decision

These amendments were adopted on March 22, 2012 and are effective immediately.

Click here to review the red line changes to the Rules of Judicial Discipline, outlined as Rule Change 2012(06).

Colorado Supreme Court Proposes Changes to Rules of Judicial Discipline and Requests Comment

After months of study and debate, the Commission on Judicial Discipline recently proposed a number of revisions to the Colorado Rules of Judicial Discipline (RJD). The Colorado Supreme Court approved these changes in June, and the new rules will take effect in January 2012. The Supreme Court now requests written public comments by any interested person on the proposed revisions made to the Rules.

The changes to the RJD were prompted by the Commission’s experience that certain rules didn’t adequately address the manner in which the Commission should fulfill its responsibilities under the Colorado Constitution. “In particular, concerns had been raised regarding the lack of procedural detail in some aspects of the rules; the scope of the confidentiality provisions; the absence of guidelines as to how to treat cases involving a judge’s mental or physical disability; the authority and responsibility of Commission staff; procedures around a judge’s temporary suspension; and the extent of the Commission’s jurisdiction over a judge who has resigned or retired.”

Revisions to the Colorado rules were informed greatly by the ABA Model Rules for Judicial Disciplinary Enforcement. The Model Rules were promulgated with the goals of ensuring prompt and fair discipline for judges; enhancing public confidence in the judiciary and judicial discipline system; protecting the public and judiciary; and safeguarding the independence of the judiciary. The Commission also turned to the Office of Attorney regulation for guidance regarding the rule-making process and its experience with attorney disciplinary and disability proceedings. Consequently, the proposed changes include several model rule provisions as well as adaptation of certain model rules to reflect the unique needs and requirements of Colorado’s judicial discipline system.

Although some of the revisions merely update terminology and format, others contain important substantive changes. Among the most significant modifications are the following:

New RJD 33.5 provides guidelines as to how the Commission should handle cases involving physical or mental disabilities. Previously, the rules only referred to disabilities in the context of sanctions available in disciplinary proceedings. The new provisions, however, detail the manner in which proceedings can be commenced, distinguish disability from disciplinary proceedings, and provide for various procedures and outcomes if a judge is found to be or stipulates to a disability. The new rule is an amalgam of the ABA Model Rules, practices and procedures of the Office of Attorney Regulation, and the Commission’s view of measures that would be fair and practical.

A substantial amendment of the confidentiality and privilege provisions (RJD 6.5). The Colorado Constitution provides that “papers” and “proceedings” of the Commission are confidential until a recommendation is filed with the Supreme Court regarding discipline of a judge or justice. This provision was intended to safeguard the disciplinary process – shielding the complainant from public embarrassment and fear of reprisal from the judicial officer accused, protecting the reputation of a judge from false accusations while investigations into the complaint are conducted, and promoting confidence in the judiciary by preventing the premature disclosure of unfounded complaints. The previous version of the rule, however, was sometimes read to shield from disclosure in circumstances where the public, attorney discipline agencies, or law enforcement should know about the discipline; the new rule establishes somewhat broader and more clearly defined exceptions to the confidentiality requirement. The new rule would also authorize the Commission to publish summaries of its privately-administered disciplinary dispositions and the Supreme Court’s sanctions.

A clarification of the Commission’s jurisdiction over a judge who resigns, retires, or does not seek retention (RJD 4). The rule provides that the Commission’s jurisdiction includes misconduct or a disability that occurred while the judge was an active or senior judge if the complaint is filed (or commenced by the Commission on its own motion) while the judge is still serving or within one year following the end of the judge’s term of office, date of retirement or resignation, or the end of the judge’s service as a senior judge. The Commission’s jurisdiction continues until a disposition or sanction is determined.

Click here to read more from Summary of Revisions and read the revised Rules in their entirety.

An original plus eight copies of written comments concerning the Colorado Rules of Judicial Discipline should be submitted to the Clerk of the Colorado Supreme Court, Christopher T. Ryan, at 101 W. Colfax Avenue, Suite 800, Denver, CO 80202, no later than Friday, September 30, 2011, by 5 pm.