Judicial Misconduct Law & Legal Definition


A judge who deliberately or knowingly and arbitrarily disregards the legal standards, causing delay and expense to litigants may be considered to have committed judicial misconduct. When a trial judge conducts the judicial proceedings in such a manner that the judge disbelieves the defendant’s case or thinks that the prosecution should prevail, then the judge can be accused of committing judicial misconduct. [Allen v. Hawley, 74 Fed. Appx. 457, 459-460 (6th Cir. Mich. 2003)]

The American Bar Association formulated The Code of Conduct in 1972 and the federal and state governments adopted it. The violations of its rules by the judges amount to punitive action against them.

The Michigan Code of Judicial Conduct provides for the following canons:

Canon 1 - A Judge Should Uphold the Integrity and Independence of the Judiciary

Canon 2 - A Judge Should Avoid Impropriety and the Appearance of Impropriety in All Activities

Canon 3 - A Judge Should Perform the Duties of Office Impartially and Diligently

Canon 4 - A Judge May Engage in Activities to Improve the Law, the Legal System, and the Administration of Justice

Canon 5 - A Judge Should Regulate Extra-Judicial Activities to Minimize the Risk of Conflict with Judicial Duties

Canon 6 - A Judge Should Regularly File Reports of Compensation Received for Quasi-Judicial and Extra-Judicial Activities and of Monetary Contributions

Canon 7 - A Judge or a Candidate for Judicial Office Should Refrain from Political Activity Inappropriate to Judicial Office

Section 351 of Title 28 of the United States Code allows any person to complain about a federal judge or magistrate who “has engaged in conduct prejudicial to the effective and expeditious administration of the business of the courts” or “is unable to discharge all the duties of office by reason of mental or physical disability.” This also provides for the judicial councils of the circuits to adopt rules for the consideration of such complaints.