Chief Justice John Roberts of the U.S. Supreme Court formally ordered on Wednesday that a rare public judicial misconduct complaint against 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Edith Jones be reviewed by officials in a different circuit — one based in the nation’s capital.
“I have selected the Judicial Council of the District of Columbia Circuit to accept the transfer and to exercise the powers of a judicial council with respect to the identified complaint and any pending or new complaints relating to the same subject matter,” Roberts said in a letter addressed to the D.C. circuit’s chief judge that was posted on the 5th Circuit’s website.
It is only one of a handful of times in U.S. history that a federal circuit judge has been the subject of a public judicial misconduct complaint and a formal disciplinary review. Normally such matters are secret under federal law.
“This is a hopeful sign that (federal judges) are taking this seriously,” says a lawyer who signed the complaint, James C. Harrington of the Texas Civil Rights Project.
Chief Justice Roberts’ letter, dated June 12, reports that the reassignment of the judicial misconduct complaint against Jones to jurists in Washington, D.C., came in response to a request for transfer from the current Chief Judge of the 5th Circuit, Carl E. Stewart.
Stewart, who replaced Jones as chief judge last October, apparently requested last week that the June 4 complaint review be assigned to another circuit court for review. However, his request on Friday for transfer was not previously made public.
See here for the background. Chief Justice Roberts’ letter is here, and more on the details of the complaint are here and here. I have no idea what to expect out of this, but I’m glad to see it being taken seriously. BOR has more.