Maryland’s legislature is just the latest (including Florida, Minnesota, and Tennessee) that may seek to use the state’s judicial disciplinary process to punish or remove judges from office not for misconduct but for their opinions and rulings. (see here and here for prior write-ups in Gavel to Gavel the publication).
HB 1061, as introduced, is an amendment to the state’s constitition that would expand the authority of the state’s Commission on Judicial Disabilities to remove judges from office that:
- Refused to enforce applicable law, court rules, or provisions of this constitition or the United States constitution
- Rendered a decision or issued an order that is contrary to applicable law, court rules, or provisions of this constitition or the United States constitution
- Knowingly disregarded applicable law, court rules, or provisions of this constitition or the United States constitution
Judges could be merely reprimanded if they “misinterpreted” the applicable law, as determined by the Commission. Judges found by the Commission to have engaged in the above conduct would be removed from office, forfeit their pensions and “any rights and privileges”, possibly including judicial immunity and permitting the judge to be sued personally.
Complaints to the Commission under these provisions would accepted from any litigant, whether the case in question is pending or concluded.
HB 1061 is before the House Judiciary Committee and set for a March 7 hearing.