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Oregon Constitution Article VII (amended), Section 8

Section 8. Removal, suspension or censure of judges. (1) In the matter provided by law, and notwithstanding section 1 of this Article, a judge of any court may be removed or suspended from his judicial office by the Supreme Court, or censured by the Supreme Court, for:


 

  1. Conviction in a court of this or any other state, or of the United States, of a crime punishable as a felony or a crime involving moral turpitude; or
  2. Wilful misconduct in a judicial office where such misconduct bears a demonstrable relationship to the effective performance of judicial duties; or
  3. Wilful or persistent failure to perform judicial duties; or
  4. Generally incompetent performance of judicial duties; or
  5. Wilful violation of any rule of judicial conduct as shall be established by the Supreme Court; or
  6. Habitual drunkenness or illegal use of narcotic or dangerous drugs.

Related Oregon Revised Statutes

Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) sections 1.410 through 1.480 create the Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability and govern its membership and work. 

1.410 Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability; term; Senate confirmation. (1) There is created the Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability consisting of:

  1. Three judges appointed by the Supreme Court;
  2. Three persons appointed by the Board of Governors of the Oregon State Bar from among persons admitted to practice law in this state; and
  3. Three persons appointed by the Governor who are not qualified under either paragraph (a) or (b) of this subsection.

(2) The term of a member is four years, but whenever a member ceases to meet the qualifications under which the member was appointed, membership shall end. Before the expiration of the term of a member, a successor shall be appointed to perform the functions of a member on the day next following expiration of the term of the member. In case of a vacancy for any cause, the appointing authority shall make an appointment to become immediately effective for a four-year term.

(3) Appointments by the Governor are subject to confirmation by the Senate in the manner provided in ORS 171.562 and 171.565. [1967 c.294 §2; 1969 c.695 §16; 1971 c.511 §1; 1985 c.565 §2]

1.415 Powers and duties of commission; rules. (1) The Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability may:

  1. Subject to the State Personnel Relations Law, appoint such subordinates and employees as the commission considers necessary to carry out the duties and powers vested in the commission.
  2. Request the assistance of and compensate physicians, expert witnesses and special counsel.
  3. By its chairperson or vice chairperson, take and preserve testimony and administer oaths to witnesses on any matter within its jurisdiction.

(2) Upon majority vote of the members of the commission or upon request of a judge whose conduct is subject to a hearing under ORS 1.420 or a judge whose alleged disability is subject to a hearing under ORS 1.425, the chairperson or vice chairperson of the commission shall issue any processes necessary to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of any books, papers, records or documents as may be required.

(3) The commission shall adopt rules of procedure governing proceedings under ORS 1.420 and 1.425. [1967 c.294 §10; 1987 c.520 §4]

1.420 Investigation; hearings; consent to discipline; recommendation; temporary suspension. (1) Upon complaint from any person concerning the conduct of a judge or upon request of the Supreme Court, and after such investigation as the Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability considers necessary, the commission may do any of the following:

  1. The commission may hold a hearing pursuant to subsection (3) of this section to inquire into the conduct of the judge.
  2. The commission may request the Supreme Court to appoint three qualified persons to act as masters, to hold a hearing pursuant to subsection (3) of this section and maintain a record on the matter referred to them and to report to the commission on the conduct of the judge.
  3. The commission may allow the judge to execute a consent to censure, suspension or removal. If a consent is entered into under this paragraph, the judge and the commission must enter into a written stipulation of facts. The consent and stipulation of facts shall be submitted by the commission to the Supreme Court.

(2) If the commission receives a complaint that appears to indicate that a judge has a disability as defined in ORS 1.303, the commission may refer the complaint to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court for appropriate proceedings under ORS 1.303.

(3) When a hearing is held by the commission or by masters as authorized in subsection (1) of this section, the hearing shall be public and all the testimony and evidence given and received in the hearing shall be public records. The judge shall have the right to be present at such hearing, to be represented by counsel, to present testimony and evidence and to cross-examine witnesses.

(4) If, after hearing or after considering the record and report of the masters, the commission finds that the conduct of the judge justifies censure, suspension or removal from office, the commission shall recommend to the Supreme Court the censure or suspension or removal of the judge.

(5) The Supreme Court by order may temporarily suspend a judge whose conduct is the subject of proceedings under this section from exercising any judicial functions during the pendency of those proceedings. [1967 c.294 §7; 1971 c.511 §3; 1987 c.520 §5; 1997 c.720 §1]

1.425 Commission proceedings upon receipt of complaint of disability; hearing; physical examination; disposition. (1) Upon complaint from the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court as provided in ORS 1.303, and after such investigation as the Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability considers necessary, the commission may:

  1. Proceed as provided in ORS 1.420; or
  2. If the investigation under this subsection indicates that the subject judge may have a temporary disability, hold a hearing pursuant to subsection (2) of this section to inquire into the alleged disability, or request the Supreme Court to appoint three qualified persons to act as masters, to hold a hearing pursuant to subsection (2) of this section and maintain a record on the matter referred to them and to report to the commission on the alleged disability.

(2) When a hearing is held by the commission or by masters as authorized in subsection (1)(b) of this section, the hearing shall not be open to the public unless the subject judge requests a public hearing. The testimony and evidence given and received in the hearing shall not be public records. The subject judge shall have the right to be present at such hearing, to be represented by counsel, to present testimony and evidence and to cross-examine witnesses.

(3)

  1. The commission may direct that a subject judge, prior to a hearing, submit to a physical examination by one, two or three physicians licensed to practice in this state and appointed by the commission to conduct the examination, or submit to a mental evaluation by one, two or three physicians, psychologists or other mental health professionals licensed to practice in this state and appointed by the commission to conduct the evaluation, or submit to both that examination and evaluation. The persons appointed to conduct the examination or evaluation shall report thereon to the commission. A copy of any report to the commission shall be provided by the commission to the subject judge. The costs of the examination, evaluation and reporting shall be paid by the commission.
  2. If a subject judge directed to submit to an examination or evaluation fails to do so, the judge may not present as evidence in the proceeding the results of any medical examination of the judge done at the instance of the judge, and the commission or masters may consider the failure of the judge to submit to examination or evaluation as evidence that the judge has a disability.

(4) If, after hearing or after considering the record and report of the masters, the commission finds that the subject judge has a temporary disability, the commission may:

  1. Enter into a disposition of the matter with the subject judge, which may include agreement by the judge to obtain professional counseling, medical treatment or other assistance or to comply with other conditions in respect to the future conduct of the judge and provide for supervision of compliance by the judge and for investigation, hearing as provided in subsection (2) of this section and, if appropriate, action by the commission as provided in paragraph (b) of this subsection if the judge fails to comply; or
  2. If the commission also finds that the conduct of the subject judge justifies suspension, recommend to the Supreme Court that the judge be suspended without loss of salary for a period not exceeding one year.

(5) The Supreme Court, on its own motion or on recommendation by the commission, by order may temporarily suspend a judge whose alleged disability is involved in proceedings under this section from exercising any judicial functions during the pendency of those proceedings.

(6) If the commission recommends suspension under subsection (4)(b) of this section, the Supreme Court shall review the record of the proceedings under this section on the law and facts and may receive additional evidence and permit argument. The Supreme Court may order the judge suspended without loss of salary for a period not exceeding one year. Upon an order of suspension, the judge shall be suspended from office for the period specified in the order. Suspension does not create a vacancy in the office of judge during the period of suspension. In addition to or in lieu of an order of suspension, the Supreme Court may require that the judge obtain professional counseling, medical treatment or other assistance or comply with other conditions in respect to the future conduct of the judge. [1987 c.520 §3]

1.430 Supreme Court review; censure; order of suspension or removal. (1) If a hearing has been held under ORS 1.420, the Supreme Court shall review the record of the proceedings on the law and facts and may receive additional evidence. The Supreme Court may censure the judge or it may order the judge suspended or removed from office.

(2) If the commission has agreed to allow the judge to submit a consent to censure, suspension or removal, the Supreme Court shall review the stipulation of facts and the disciplinary action to which the judge has consented. If the Supreme Court approves the consent, the court shall censure the judge or order the judge suspended or removed from office pursuant to the terms of the consent. If the Supreme Court rejects the consent and stipulation in full, the court shall remand the matter to the commission for a hearing under ORS 1.420. The hearing shall be conducted as though the consent and stipulation had never been entered into, and the stipulations made by the judge may not be considered as evidence by the commission in the hearing. If the Supreme Court accepts the stipulation of facts but rejects the disciplinary action agreed to by the judge and the commission, the court may remand the matter to the commission for such further fact-finding as the court may direct on the issue of the appropriate discipline for the conduct, and may request that the matter be briefed and argued before the court. The Supreme Court may thereafter censure the judge, or enter an order suspending or removing the judge, as the court finds appropriate under the law and the facts.

(3) Upon an order for removal, the judge shall be removed from office and the salary of the judge shall cease and the office of the judge is vacant on the date of such order.

(4) Upon an order of suspension, the judge shall be suspended from office for the period specified in the order and the salary of the judge shall cease, if so ordered, from the date of the order until the end of the specified period. Suspension does not create a vacancy in the office of judge during the period of suspension. [1967 c.294 §7; 1971 c.511 §3; 1997 c.720 §2]

1.440 Status of records of proceedings under ORS 1.420 or 1.425. (1) Documents filed with the Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability and the investigation conducted by the commission prior to a hearing pursuant to ORS 1.420 or 1.425 shall not be public records unless received as competent evidence in the course of a hearing pursuant to ORS 1.420. The decision of the commission after hearing or upon review of the record and report of masters under ORS 1.420 shall be a public record, together with the recommendations, if any, of the commission to the Supreme Court. The decision of the commission after hearing or upon review of the record and report of masters under ORS 1.425 shall not be a public record, except for a decision and recommendation to the Supreme Court under ORS 1.425 (4)(b). A consent to censure, suspension or removal executed by a judge under ORS 1.420 (1)(c), and a stipulation of facts entered into between the commission and a judge under ORS 1.420 (1)(c), shall not be a public record until the consent and stipulation are submitted to the Supreme Court.

(2) Documents filed and testimony given in proceedings under ORS 1.420 or 1.425 are privileged communications which may not be received in evidence in any judicial proceedings other than those directly connected with the administration of ORS 1.410 to 1.480 unless expressly or impliedly waived by the person tendering the document to or testifying in such proceedings or except in a criminal prosecution for perjury or false swearing before the commission.

(3) Members of the commission, masters appointed pursuant to ORS 1.420 or 1.425 and staff of the commission shall not disclose or use any investigation, testimony or documents which are not public records as defined in ORS 1.410 to 1.480 for any purpose other than in connection with their official duties in the administration of ORS 1.410 to 1.480. The commission may, upon the request of a judge who has been the subject of a complaint and proceedings thereon that are not public records, state the disposition of the complaint and proceedings and the reasons for its decision when the commission finds that the complaint or proceedings have been publicized and fairness requires such comment. [1967 c.294 §8; 1981 c.354 §2; 1987 c.520 §6; 1997 c.720 §3]

1.450 Status of testimony in proceedings under ORS 1.420 or 1.425. Any testimony given by a witness compelled to appear before the Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability or the masters appointed pursuant to ORS 1.420 or 1.425 shall not be used against the witness in any criminal action or proceeding, nor shall any criminal action or proceeding be brought against such witness on account of any testimony so given by the witness, except for perjury or false swearing committed before the commission or the masters. [1967 c.294 §14; 1987 c.520 §7]

1.460 Judge not to participate in proceedings involving self except in defense. A judge who is a member of the Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability or of the Supreme Court or who acts as a master under ORS 1.420 or 1.425 shall not participate in any proceedings involving the conduct or alleged disability of the judge except in the defense of the judge. [1967 c.294 §9; 1987 c.520 §8]

1.470 Service of process; proof; return; witness fees. (1) Process issued by the commission or by the chairperson and vice chairperson of the commission shall be served by a person authorized to serve summons and in the manner prescribed for the service of a summons upon a defendant in a civil action in a circuit court. The process shall be returned to the authority issuing it within 10 days after its delivery to the person for service, with proof of service as for summons or that the person cannot be found. When served outside the county in which the process originated, the process may be returned by mail. The person to whom the process is delivered shall indorse thereon the date of delivery.

(2) Each witness compelled to attend any proceedings under ORS 1.420 or 1.425, other than an officer or employee of the state, a public corporation, or a political subdivision, shall receive for attendance the same fees and mileage allowance allowed by law to a witness in a civil case, payable from funds appropriated to the commission. [1967 c.294 §§11,12; 1973 c.827 §1; 1977 c.877 §1; 1979 c.284 §41; 1987 c.520 §9]

1.475 Procedure when process not obeyed. (1) Whenever a person summoned by the Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability fails to appear to testify or fails to produce any books, papers, records or documents as required, or whenever any person so summoned refuses to answer any question pertinent to the subject under inquiry before the commission, or the masters appointed pursuant to ORS 1.420 or 1.425, the commission may apply to the circuit court for the county in which the failure occurred for an order to the person to attend and testify, or otherwise to comply with the demand or request of the commission or the masters.

(2) The application to the court shall be by ex parte motion upon which the court shall make an order requiring the person against whom it is directed to comply with the demand or request of the commission within three days after service of the order, or within such further time as the court may grant, or to justify the failure within that time.

(3) The order shall be served upon the person to whom it is directed in the manner required by this state for the service of process, which service is required to confer jurisdiction upon the court. Failure to obey an order issued by the court under this section is contempt of court. [1967 c.294 §13; 1987 c.520 §10]

1.480 Officers; quorum; compensation and expenses. (1) The Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability shall select one of its members as chairperson, and another as vice chairperson, for such terms and to perform such functions as the commission shall determine.

(2) A majority of the commission constitutes a quorum for the transaction of business. Every recommendation on matters relating to the removal of a judge to the Supreme Court must be concurred in by a majority of the members of the commission.

(3) A member of the Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability is entitled to compensation and expenses as provided in ORS 292.495. [1967 c.294 §§4,5; 1969 c.314 §2]