2011 Year in Review: Record number of impeachment attempts against judges for their decisions

December 27th, 2011 by Bill Raftery Leave a reply »

Greetings International Business Tribune readers!

2011 saw more efforts to impeach or otherwise legislatively remove state judges from office than at any point in recent history, indeed perhaps in all of U.S. history. 14 bills in 7 states sought the impeachment of numerous judges, including the entire Superior Court of New Hampshire. In all but two instances (Bass-LeSure in Oklahoma & Berry in Pennsylvania), the sole accusation was that the judge(s) in question issued opinions that displeased members of the legislature. One such effort against Missouri Circuit Court Judge John A. Ross appeared timed to derail the judge’s confirmation to a seat on a Federal court.

This is in addition to the numerous efforts to codify anticipatory impeachment threats through statutes that specifically warn any future judge that renders an opinion striking down the statute itself or rendering certain opinions saying X has committed an impeachable offense.

Many of these efforts will be carried over into the 2012 session and every indication is that additional impeachment attempts based on judicial opinions will be forthcoming in the new legislative year.

 

State Bill Form of removal Target Reason for removal request Status
Iowa HR 47 Impeachment Supreme Court Justice Brent Appel Same sex marriage decision Varnum v. Brien Maybe carried over in 2012
Iowa HR 48 Impeachment Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady Same sex marriage decision Varnum v. Brien Maybe carried over in 2012
Iowa HR 49 Impeachment Supreme Court Justice Daryl Hecht Same sex marriage decision Varnum v. Brien Maybe carried over in 2012
Iowa HR 50 Impeachment Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins Same sex marriage decision Varnum v. Brien Maybe carried over in 2012
Massachusetts HB 2172 Bill of address Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland Goodrow v. Lane Bryant, Inc., 432 Mass. 165 (2000), and Wiedmann v. Bradford Group, Inc., 444 Mass. 698 (2005) relative to the private right of action provisions of the state’s wage and hour laws. Pending
Massachusetts HB 2172 Bill of address Supreme Judicial Court Justice Francis X. Spina Goodrow v. Lane Bryant, Inc., 432 Mass. 165 (2000), and Wiedmann v. Bradford Group, Inc., 444 Mass. 698 (2005) relative to the private right of action provisions of the state’s wage and hour laws. Pending
Massachusetts HB 2172 Bill of address Supreme Judicial Court Justice Judith A. Cowin Goodrow v. Lane Bryant, Inc., 432 Mass. 165 (2000), and Wiedmann v. Bradford Group, Inc., 444 Mass. 698 (2005) relative to the private right of action provisions of the state’s wage and hour laws. Pending
Massachusetts HB 2172 Bill of address Supreme Judicial Court Justice Robert J. Cordy Goodrow v. Lane Bryant, Inc., 432 Mass. 165 (2000), and Wiedmann v. Bradford Group, Inc., 444 Mass. 698 (2005) relative to the private right of action provisions of the state’s wage and hour laws. Pending
Missouri HR 3102 Impeachment Circuit Court Judge John A. Ross Decisions in Buchek v. Washington Dead (Judge Ross confirmed to Federal bench)
New Hampshire HR 7 Impeachment Marital Master Phillip Cross Decisions in custody/divorce cases Investigation approved by House
New Hampshire HR 7 Impeachment “any justice of the New Hampshire superior court” Decisions in custody/divorce cases Investigation approved by House
New Jersey SR 105 Impeachment Supreme Court Justice Roberto Rivera-Soto Refusal to vote in some cases Request for resignation or impeachment approved by Senate
Oklahoma HR 1001 Request for removal by judicial disciplinary commission District Judge Thomas Bartheld Failure to reject negotiated plea bargain in child sex abuse case Maybe carried over in 2012
Oklahoma HR 1005 Impeachment request to Congress U.S. District Court Judge Vickie Miles-LaGrange “Abuse of authority” for issuing an injunction against state’s sharia law ban Maybe carried over in 2012
Oklahoma HR 1006 Request for removal by judicial disciplinary commission District Judge Tammy Bass-LeSure 36 felony counts, including four counts of perjury and 32 counts of fraudulent claim Maybe carried over in 2012
Oklahoma HR 1024 Request for removal by judicial disciplinary commission District Judge Tom Lucas Denial of blanket recusal motion by DA Maybe carried over in 2012
Pennsylvania HR 124 Impeachment Court of Common Pleas Judge Willis W. Berry, Jr. Use of his office and judicial secretary for a decade to “assist him in the day-to-day operations concerning his properties.” Carried over in 2012