Filing a Complaint Against a Judge
The Commission does not review legal error or disputes about the merits of a judge's decision. Filing a complaint is not a substitute for appeal and has no effect on your legal or appellate rights . If you want or intend to appeal from a judge's order, you must pursue your appellate rights through the judicial system. The appellate process is subject to strict deadlines, and you should immediately obtain legal advice about your appellate remedies. The Commission may not give legal advice or help you decide whether to appeal.
If you file a complaint against a judge, you must provide your name, current address, all telephone contacts, the name of the judge and the court, and the cause number and names and addresses of all attorneys who represented you at any time if your complaint relates to a court case.
You must state in writing a concise but detailed explanation of the judge's specific conduct you allege to have been unethical. Provide dates, names and contact information for any witnesses, and copies of pertinent documents. You need not research or identify what precise rule the judge is alleged to have violated. The judge will receive a copy of your complaint.
The only other requirement is that you verify your complaint; that is, sign it under oath stating that the allegations are true to the best of your knowledge and belief. Please use the complaint form. The Commission's address is:
251 N. Illinois Street, Suite 1600
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204
We will acknowledge receipt of your complaint and will contact you in writing if we need more information. If you supplement your complaint, you must do so in writing. The Commission meets only every other month, and we cannot predict how long your complaint may be pending. Again, you must continue to pursue your legal and/or appellate remedies, as the complaint process does not affect or protect your legal rights.
If the Commission dismisses your complaint after concluding that the judge did not violate the ethics rules, you will be notified only of that fact. If your complaint is dismissed, but the judge received a private caution of some kind, you will be advised that the Commission took appropriate action. If the Commission ultimately votes to file formal disciplinary charges based upon your allegations, the process then becomes public.
Usually, the only public action taken by the Commission is when it issues a Commission Admonition or files charges asking the Supreme Court to impose judicial discipline. Otherwise, the Commission is required to maintain the confidentiality of all complaints and investigations, and its meetings are not open to the public. Supreme Court rules prohibit the Commission in most instances from informing anyone, including the complainant, of the nature of any Commission deliberations, the progress or details of any investigation, or details behind the basis for the Commission's final decision.
You are not required to keep confidential your allegations or the fact that you filed a complaint, nor is the judge. However, if you do state or write your allegations to anyone outside the Commission, you lose your protection from a lawsuit, protection you otherwise have under Supreme Court rules for any statements made without malice.
Learn more about the Commission's Jurisdiction and Grounds for Judicial Discipline.