Commission on Judicial Tenure
The Commission on Judicial Tenure and Discipline was created in 1974 to provide a forum for complaints against any judge or magistrate of the Supreme, Superior, Family, District, and Workers’ Compensation Courts, or the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal. The Commission reviews allegations of serious violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct, including willful and persistent failure to perform judicial duties; disabling addiction to alcohol, drugs, or narcotics; conduct that brings the judicial office into serious disrepute; or a physical or a mental disability that seriously interferes with, and will continue to interfere with, the performance of judicial duties.
Following a formal hearing, the Commission determines whether the charges have been sustained. If nine (9) members of the Commission who were present throughout the hearing find that the charges have been sustained, the Commission reports its finding to the Supreme Court and recommends either reprimand, censure, suspension, removal, or retirement of the judge or magistrate. The Commission may also recommend immediate temporary suspension of the judge or magistrate during the pendency of further proceedings. If charges have not been sustained, the complaint is dismissed, and the judge or magistrate and the complaining party are notified.
The Commission consists of sixteen (16) members: three (3) members are appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate, none of whom need be attorneys; three (3) members are appointed by the governor from a list of attorneys provided by the Rhode Island Bar Association with the advice and consent of the Senate (that list of attorneys to include five (5) names for each member to be appointed by the governor); one attorney or public member to be appointed by the speaker of the House of representatives; one attorney or public member who shall be appointed by the House minority leader; one attorney or public member to be appointed by the president of the Senate; one attorney or public member to be appointed by the Senate minority leader; and six (6) members of the Judiciary appointed by the Supreme Court, one (1) each from the Superior, Family, District, and Workers’ Compensation Courts and the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal.