Upon application from the Commission the supreme court may do any of the following:
Retire a judicial officer for a permanent physical or mental disability which substantially interferes with the performance of judicial duties. Some examples include:
Alcohol or drug abuse
Discipline or remove a judicial officer for:
Persistent failure to perform duties
Habitual intemperance (excessive use of alcohol or drugs)
Willful misconduct in office
Conduct which brings judicial office into disrepute
Substantial violation of judicial ethics.
Discipline of a judicial officer may include suspension without pay for a definite period of time not to exceed twelve months.
Discipline or remove an employee for conduct that violates the judicial branch code of employee ethics.
If a complaint appears to be supported by evidence but even if it were to be proven, it would not justify action by the supreme court (for example, the misconduct was minor or a one-time violation), the Commission may handle the matter by warning the judicial officer or employee that future misconduct may result in more serious discipline. The commission does not report matters handled in this way to the supreme court.
316 N.W. 2nd 889 (1982)
Judge Cartensen failed to file Rule 200 Reports, a monthly report of matters taken under advisement in any case for longer than 60 days, together with an explanation of the reasons for the delay and an expected date of decision. Judge Cartensen was suspended for 30 days.
357 N.W. 2nd 300 (1984)
The magistrate's daughter received a speeding ticket. On stationary with the magistrate's judicial title and address, Magistrate Harned wrote a letter to the magistrate in the county where the speeding ticket was issued claiming that the speedometer in the car was not working properly and asking the other magistrate to handle the speeding charge "in such a way as to keep it off her driving record." Magistrate Harned subsequently called the other magistrate to further discuss the matter. The Commission on Judicial Qualifications found that the magistrate had violated Canon 1 ("A judge should uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary") and Canon 2 ("A judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all his activities"). The Supreme Court agreed and imposed a public reprimand and suspension without pay for four days.
363 N.W. 2nd 541 (1985)
Judge Eads waged a campaign of intimidation against an attorney. He was suspended for 60 days.
503 N.W. 2nd 425 (1993)
The Supreme Court found that Judge Jenkins made irrelevant, degrading and personal characterizations of persons appearing in court. Public reprimand was decided to be the appropriate sanction.
No. 99-648 (1999)
Magistrate Moore found to have disregarded Rule 200 Reports, a monthly report of matters taken under advisement in any case for longer than 60 days, together with an explanation of the reasons for the delay and an expected date of decision. A public reprimand was given.
607 N.W. 2nd 699 (2000)
Judge Stigler (1) proceeded with hearing to set aside temporary injunction issued by another judge while counsel of record for one of the parties was engaged in trial of previously scheduled matter in same courthouse, (2) called un-represented party to witness stand and through leading questions obtained admissions of domestic abuse from him, and (3) adjudicated custody, visitation and child support even though no request was on file that judge do so. Judge failed to recuse himself from ruling on temporary attorney-fee application in which one party was represented by an attorney who had filed a complaint against the judge. Judge made improper and disrespectful remarks during disciplinary proceeding before the Judicial Qualifications Commission. Court ordered public reprimand.
612 N.W. 2nd 789 (2000)
Judge Holien failed to follow the Iowa Rules of Criminal Procedure regarding arraignments and trial settings and conducted initial appearances in her office, not allowing even the peace officers guarding the prisoners to be present in chambers. The supreme court concluded that Judge Holien's refusal to abide by statute and rules with respect to public access to her courtroom and with respect to accepted procedures violated Canon 1 of our Code of Judicial Conduct ("A judge should uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary") and Canon 2 ("A judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities."). The Supreme Court ordered the judge removed from office effective thirty days from filing of the opinion unless the judge resigned.
631 N.W.2d 271 (2001)
Judge Gerard had an undisclosed sexual relationship with an assistant county attorney. The judge also did not get his work done in a timely matter after receiving prior admonition. Judge Gerard received a 45 day suspension.
639 N.W.2d 12 (Iowa 2002)
The Judicial Qualifications Commission questioned Judge McCormick about a political sign on his lawn. He responded it was his wife’s. The Commission cautioned him, but decided it wasn’t a technical violation. Judge McCormick later informed the Commission it was his sign, and he was apologetic for misrepresenting himself. The Supreme Court held judges should not have a political sign on his/her property and the judge made a material misstatement to the Commission. The judge was publicly reprimanded as he had corrected his misrepresentation in a timely fashion.
No. 04-1457 (2004)
Judge Weaver was arrested and convicted of drunk driving. The Judicial Qualifications Commission found Judge Weaver’s actions constituted willful misconduct in office, brought the judicial office into disrepute, and violated two canons of the Iowa Code of Judicial Conduct. The judge was publicly reprimanded.
No. 13–0367 (2013)
Magistrate Meldrum published an advertisement for his services as a private attorney in which he wore his judicial robes and referred to his position as a magistrate in violation of the Iowa Code of Judicial Conduct. The magistrate was publicly reprimanded.
No. 16-0005 (2016)
In July 2013, Judge Howes signed an ex parte temporary restraining order presented to her by an attorney who had represented the judge in May 2013 in a post-divorce dispute between the judge and her ex-spouse. The Judicial Qualifications Commission concluded that the judge violated the Code of Judicial Conduct (rule 51:2.11(A) and Canon 2) by failing to recuse herself from signing the order presented to the judge by the attorney who had recently represented her. In addition, Judge Howes acknowledged that she had accepted a gift of free legal services from the attorney who represented her in her divorce and post-divorce legal matters. The Commission concluded that the judge violated the Code of Judicial Conduct's prohibition against accepting gifts from persons who appear before her in court. (See rule 51:3.13(A) and Canon 3.) The Commission also concluded that, due to Judge Howe's misconduct on both these issues, the judge failed to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary and to avoid impropriety or the appearance of impropriety in violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct (rule 51:1.1, rule 51:2.1, and Canon 1). The Commission recommended the Supreme Court publicly reprimand the judge for these violations. The Supreme Court agreed and publicly admonished the judge.
No. 16-0097 (2016)
Magistrate Martinek maintained an internet website for advertising his private law practice. On that website he included a section to inform the public that he was available to perform marriages. In that section, he stated that his fee for performing marriage ceremonies was $200, but he did not inform people that he would perform marriages without charging a fee if couples requested a marriage during regular work hours. He also included two pictures of himself in his judicial robe performing marriages. The Judicial Qualifications Commission recommended that the supreme court publicly reprimand the magistrate for violations of Canon 1 and rules 51:1.2 and 51:1.3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct for: (1) including advertising about performing marriage ceremonies (a judicial function) on his private law practice website, (2) including photos of himself in his judicial robes on his private law practice website, and (3) not disclosing in his advertising that he would perform weddings for no charge during his regular office hours at the courthouse. Shortly after the commission submitted its recommendation to the Supreme Court, Magistrate Martinek resigned his position as a judicial magistrate. The Supreme Court concluded that the magistrate had violated the canons of judicial conduct identified above, but declined to rule on the matter of discipline because Martinek, having resigned his magistrate position, was no longer a judicial officer.
No. 12-0256 (2012)
Judge Block was arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated, first offense (a serious misdemeanor) when he was returning home after a party on a weekend evening. He subsequently pleaded guilty. The Judicial Qualifications Commission found the judge’s conduct to be a substantial violation of Canon 1 and rules 51:1.1 [failure to comply with the law] and 51:1.2 [failure to avoid impropriety and to promote confidence in the judiciary] of the Code of Judicial Conduct and recommended the Supreme Court publicly reprimand the judge. The Supreme Court confirmed the Judicial Qualifications Commission’s findings and publicly reprimanded the judge.
No. 14-0510 (2014)
Judge Dean arrived at the courthouse in Henry County in a significantly intoxicated condition and was physically unable to take the bench to perform her judicial duties. She was escorted from the courthouse by court staff. The Judicial Qualifications Commission found the judge’s conduct to be a substantial violation of Canon 1 and rules 51:1.2 [failure to avoid impropriety and failure to promote confidence in the judiciary] and 51:2.5(A) [failure to competently perform judicial duties] of the Code of Judicial Conduct and recommended the Supreme Court suspend the judge without pay for 90 days. The Supreme Court confirmed the Judicial Qualifications Commission’s findings and suspended the judge without pay for 30 days.
No. 14-1596 (2014)
Magistrate Krull, while acting in his capacity as a judicial magistrate, signed a search warrant authorizing law enforcement officers to search the home of a client whom Krull, acting as a private attorney, was representing in a child custody case. The warrant authorized a search for evidence pertaining to his client’s son’s possible involvement in a burglary. The Judicial Qualifications Commission found the magistrate’s conduct in signing the search warrant to be a substantial violation of three sections of the Code of Judicial Conduct: part III(B) of the Application section [acting as a lawyer in a proceeding in which he served as a judge], rule 51:2.11(A) [failure to disqualify himself as a judge], and 51:1.2 [failure to avoid impropriety and to promote confidence in the judiciary]. The Commission recommended the Supreme Court publicly reprimand the magistrate. The Supreme Court confirmed the Judicial Qualifications Commission’s findings and publicly reprimanded the magistrate.
No. 15-2008 (2016)
Magistrate Sevcik, acting in his capacity as a private attorney, represented a client in a hearing in district court in a domestic relations case. Prior to the hearing, he obtained two case files from the Clerk of District Court office for cases in which deferred judgments in criminal cases that had been entered against his client’s opponent. Those case records were subsequently expunged (sealed) and, therefore, were confidential files available only for use by judicial officers and selected other public officials identified in Iowa Code §907.4(2), not by other attorneys or the general public. During the hearing, Sevcik used a document from one of the sealed confidential files to impeach a witness (his client’s opponent). The Judicial Qualifications Commission found the judge’s conduct to be a substantial violation of four rules of the Code of Judicial Conduct and recommended the Supreme Court publicly reprimand the magistrate. The Supreme Court concluded the magistrate had violated two rules of the Code of Judicial Conduct: 51:1.2 2 [failure to avoid impropriety and failure to promote confidence in the judiciary] and 51:3.5 [obtaining confidential information as a judicial officer and using it for a purpose unrelated to his judicial duties], and publicly reprimanded the magistrate.