Sanctions for misconduct range from confidential reprimands for minor technical violations to removal from office for major violations. Since its inception, the JCC's actions have resulted in removal from the bench, involuntarily retirement and public discipline. Many more have resulted in private discipline. The commission’s disciplinary actions are subject to judicial review by the Supreme Court of Kentucky on appeal.
How to File a Complaint
Complaints must be submitted in writing to the JCC. The complaint form is available in PDF format and is fillable online. You can then save and print the form and mail or email it to the JCC.
If you prefer to have a complaint form mailed to you, please call or email the JCC. Please include your name, mailing address and phone number in the request.
The JCC does not have the authority to review a case for judicial error or to direct a different result in a case. These functions are handled through the appeal process available through the appropriate appellate court. To attempt to change the outcome of your case, please discuss this with an attorney immediately.
Complaint Review Process
The JCC carefully reviews complaints to determine if they are within its jurisdiction. If a complaint is not within the JCC’s jurisdiction, it will be dismissed without further action.
When the JCC finds sufficient cause, it will conduct a preliminary investigation that may include a meeting with the judge who is the subject of the complaint. If the complaint is not resolved at this stage, the JCC may file formal charges against the judge and hold a fact-finding hearing. The JCC’s attorney presents the case at the hearing and the judge has the right to defend against the charges and to be represented by an attorney. The person who filed the complaint may be subpoenaed as a witness if he or she has personal knowledge of wrongdoing.
If no misconduct is found, the complaint will be dismissed. If the JCC finds improper conduct by the judge or a disability that seriously interferes with the judge’s ability to perform judicial duties, the JCC may take any of the following actions:
- Privately admonish or privately reprimand the judge
- Publicly reprimand or suspend the judge
- Remove the judge from office or, in the case of disability, order the judge to retire from the bench
JCC orders are effective 10 days after service on a judge unless the judge appeals to the Supreme Court of Kentucky within that time. The Supreme Court can affirm, modify or set aside in whole or in part the JCC’s order or remand the action to the JCC for further proceedings.
The rules governing the JCC require confidentiality during the investigation process. If a complaint results in a hearing, the JCC provides the judge under review with the information compiled during the commission’s investigation, including the name of the person who filed the complaint, if relevant.
If the JCC files formal charges against a judge, the JCC makes public the charges and any response from the judge. All subsequent pleadings are also made public and any hearing related to the charges is public. Deliberations in reaching any decision regarding the charges are not public.
The complainant is notified of what action is taken unless the disposition is a private admonishment or private reprimand. Final disposition of some complaints takes several months or longer.
The JCC is composed of six voting members who serve four-year terms. The members include one member and one alternate from District Court, Circuit Court and the Kentucky Court of Appeals, each chosen by a majority vote of their respective courts; one member and one alternate appointed by the governing body of the Kentucky Bar Association; and two citizen members (neither judges nor attorneys) appointed by the governor.