March 13, 2008
QUESTIONS FOR JUDICIAL REVIEW COUNCIL NOMINEE
By: George Coppolo, Chief Attorney
You asked for questions for a nominee as a member and chairperson of the Judicial Review Council.
JUDICIAL REVIEW COUNCIL (CGS § 51-51K)
The Judicial Review Council investigates complaints against judges, workers' compensation commissioners, and family support magistrates and makes recommendations regarding their reappointment and, in the case of judges, appointment to a higher court. The council can admonish, censure, or suspend any of them for up to one year or recommend to the Supreme Court a longer suspension or removal from office.
The council must investigate complaints and, if it finds probable cause, hold hearings. Its proceedings are, for the most part, confidential unless the subject of the investigation wants them public.
QUESTIONS FOR JUDICIAL REVIEW COUNCIL APPOINTEES
1. What qualifications do you believe a Judicial Review Council chairperson should possess?
2. How has your background prepared you for this position?
3. What is the primary reason you want to serve in this capacity?
4. Do you believe that lay members of the council differ from attorney or judge members in the way they should approach their responsibilities? If so, how?
5. Why is it important to have lay members on the council?
6. Do you believe the council has been effective? What would you do to improve it?
7. The statutes provide for the removal, suspension, or censure of judges, magistrates, or commissioners whose temperament adversely affects the “orderly carriage of justice.” What type of temperament would you consider this to be?
8. The statutes provide for removal, suspension, or censure of judges for incompetent performance of judicial duties. What type of evidence would you look for to determine whether a judge's performance was incompetent?
9. Do you believe that exoneration, removal, suspension, censure, and private admonishment provide the council with an adequate array of options?
10. A bill this session gives the council the power to impose a civil penalty on a judge. (Raised Bill 605, § 7) Do you support or oppose this change?
11. A bill this session requires the council to maintain an internet site, give notice of the time and place of its meetings, make the agendas for such meetings available to the public and do certain other things to make its activities more transparent to the public (Raised Bill 605, § 5). Do you support or oppose this type of change?
12. Do you believe that frequent demeaning references to ethnic or racial minorities, members of religious minorities, or women should be grounds for action? What would the appropriate action be?
13. How would you handle a complaint that a judge, magistrate, or commissioner had a substance abuse problem?
14. Do you believe the investigative process should be more open to the public or more protective of the rights of the accused?
15. How would you balance the conflicting beliefs in the public's right to know versus the right of judicial confidentiality?
16. In your opinion, to what extent does a judge's, commissioner's, or magistrate's personal life affect his ability to adequately perform his duties? Would it be appropriate to sanction a judge for something based on his personal life, whether or not it affected his official duties?
17. Do you think ordinary citizens know enough about the Judicial Review Council's existence and duties to be able to effectively bring complaints? If not, do you have suggestions?
18. How would you go about determining whether a judge legitimately used the contempt power to control the courtroom or whether he or she unfairly abused a defendant or an attorney?
19. In addition to considering complaints from others, the council can initiate its own investigations. Under what circumstances should the council initiate investigations?
20. Under what circumstances should the council withhold its recommendation for appointment or reappointment?