ABA Journal Daily News
By Debra Cassens Weiss
June 15, 2018
Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley said Wednesday that it may be time for an independent inspector general to handle misconduct complaints against the federal judiciary.
Speaking at a committee hearing, Grassley said nearly every federal agency has a watchdog that can guard against misconduct, report the National Law Journal and CNN. "It’s time for the federal judiciary to catch up," he said. Bloomberg Big Law Business and the Huffington Post also have coverage of the hearing.
Judicial officials have taken the position that an inspector general isn’t needed, and could violate separation of powers principles, according to CNN.
Grassley criticized a recent report by a federal court working group that said the judiciary should revise codes of conduct to promote appropriate behavior. The report also said judges have a special responsibility to promote appropriate behavior and report misconduct by others, including other judges.
Grassley said in a June 5 statement that the report "kicks the can down the road" and leaves specific policy changes to other committees.
At Wednesday’s hearing, James Duff, the director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, said the judiciary has a process that works when it’s used. The problem, he said, it that some misconduct might go unreported because employees find the process to be too complicated, they don’t know about it or they fear retaliation.
The working group was formed at the request of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. after 15 women accused Judge Alex Kozinski of misconduct in interviews with the Washington Post. Kozinski, a judge on the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, announced his immediate retirement in December. Read more