The Colorado Constitution established the Commission on Judicial Discipline to investigate allegations that a judge is not properly performing his or her official duties because of willful misconduct, ethical violations or a permanent disabling health condition. The Commission may take various actions to remedy improper conduct including simply meeting with the judge, privately or publicly reprimanding the judge, or recommending that the Supreme Court remove a judge from office. In an appropriate case, the Commission also may place a judge on disability retirement.
Created in 1966, the commission is composed of 10 members: four citizens, two attorneys, two district court judges, and two county court judges. The citizen and attorney members are appointed by the Governor and must be approved by the Colorado Senate. The judge members are appointed by the Colorado Supreme Court. Commission members serve staggered four-year terms.
The commission does not have jurisdiction over municipal court judges. County Court judges in the City and County of Denver serve as municipal judges, which removes them from the commission’s jurisdiction. Complaints regarding the conduct of Denver County Court judges are considered by the Denver County Court Judicial Discipline Commission, 1437 Broadway, Room 108, Denver, CO 80202 (Telephone 720 865 7870). Complaints regarding the conduct of a lawyer who serves as a magistrate of a state court or as a municipal judge should be filed with the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel, 1300 Broadway, Suite 500, Denver, Colorado 80203.
The commission has the constitutional authority to investigate any of the following acts:
- willful misconduct by a judge, including misconduct which, although not related to judicial duties, brings the judicial office into disrepute or is prejudicial to the administration of justice;
- willful or persistent failure of a judge to perform judicial duties, including the incompetent performance of judicial duties;
- intemperance, including extreme or immoderate personal conduct, recurring loss of temper or control, abuse of alcohol, or the use of illegal narcotics or dangerous drugs;
- any conduct on the part of a judge that constitutes a violation of the Colorado Code of Judicial Conduct; or
- a disability, which is or is likely to become permanent, that interferes with the performance of judicial duties.