North Dakota: plan for military take over of Judicial Conduct Commission fails

A plan put forth in the North Dakota House to have the state’s military take over the Judicial Conduct Commission which has the power to discipline the judges in the state has failed.

HB 1313 as introduced (and discussed here) would have removed the state’s 7 member Judicial Conduct Commission, made up of judges, lawyers, and nonlawyers chosen by judges, the bar, and the governor respectively.

Under HB 1313 the commission would instead have been made up of 7 active or retired members of the military chosen by the state’s Adjutant General who serves as the commander of the state’s National Guard.

During committee hearings this proposal was rejected and instead amended to focus on the Commission’s hearing panel. Currently, that panel is made up of 4 commissioners of which at least 2 must be nonlawyers. The amendment would have expanded the hearing panel to 5 with at least 3 nonlawyers. Even with the amendment the House Judiciary committee recommended rejecting the bill as amended on a 9-5 vote. The full House rejected the amended bill on a 5-84 vote last week.