RD59 - 2003 Activities of the Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission

Executive Summary:
In accordance with Section 17.1-905 of the Code of Virginia, the Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission makes the following report concerning its activities during the past twelve months:

1. The Commission continues to keep statistical information on all incoming telephone calls and correspondence. Complaints and inquiries are separated into categories indicating the source, the nature of the complaint or inquiry, and whether a violation of the Canons of Judicial Conduct was alleged. The statistics are attached and made a part of this report.

2. The Commission's 2003 statistical report also includes the number of times during the year that the Commission issued formal charges against a judge, the number of formal hearings conducted, and the number of informal meetings with judges to discuss complaints.

3. Pamphlets describing the function of the Commission have been made available to the public and distributed to all the Clerks' offices of General District, Juvenile, and Circuit Courts. The pamphlet explains how complaints are initiated, the confidential nature of Commission proceedings, and the array of dispositions available to the Commission. Similar pamphlets specifically aimed at lawyers also have been distributed widely to members of the bar.

4. Information concerning the Commission also is available on the Internet on the home page of the Virginia Supreme Court. The Commission's Rules, the Canons of Judicial Conduct and complaint forms are accessible on the website.

5. Commission Counsel also provides informal ethics advice to Virginia judges on a daily basis. During the past twelve months, Counsel responded to 330 such requests.

6. The Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee responds to requests from judges for formal opinions concerning whether proposed future conduct complies with the Canons of Judicial Conduct. Commission staff continues to provide administrative support for this Committee. Information concerning the Ethics Committee and an index of the Committee's formal opinions also are available on the Internet.

7. The Commission has presented numerous educational programs concerning judicial ethics. These programs have been conducted at local, regional, and state meetings for judges and bar groups. Commission staff also held training programs for substitute judges during October and November in Abingdon, Harrisonburg, Henrico, Manassas, Rustburg, and Suffolk.