JURISDICTION OF THE JUDICIAL TENURE COMMISSION
The Judicial Tenure Commission is the independent state agency responsible for investigating complaints of judicial misconduct and judicial incapacity, and for recommending discipline of judges by the Michigan Supreme Court. Its jurisdiction includes all active judicial officers, as that term is defined in the Michigan Court Rules. The Commission has no jurisdiction over federal judges or administrative law judges such as workers’ compensation magistrates, department of corrections hearing officers, and the like. The Commission's authority over judicial officers extends beyond the person's tenure in office if one of two requirements is met. First, if a Request for Investigation is filed while the individual holds the judicial position, the Commission retains jurisdiction even after the person leaves office. Second, if the conduct in question is related to a person's judicial office, the Commission has jurisdiction over the individual regardless of when the Request for Investigation is filed.
The Commission’s authority is limited to investigating alleged judicial misconduct and, if warranted, recommending the imposition of discipline by the Michigan Supreme Court. Judicial misconduct usually involves conduct in conflict with the standards set forth in the Code of Judicial Conduct. Examples of judicial misconduct include intemperate courtroom conduct (such as yelling, rudeness, or profanity), improper communication with only one of the parties in a case, failure to disqualify in cases in which the judge has or appears to have a financial or personal interest in the outcome, delay in performing judicial duties, and public comment about the pending case. Judicial misconduct also may involve improper off-the-bench conduct such as driving under the influence of alcohol or even soliciting money on behalf of charitable organizations.
What the Commission Cannot Do
The Commission is not an appellate court. The Commission cannot change a decision made by any judicial officer. When a court makes an incorrect decision or misapplies the law, the ruling can be changed only through a challenge in court. The Commission cannot get a judge taken off a case or have a matter transferred to another judge. The Commission cannot provide legal assistance to individuals, explain legal procedures, intervene in litigation on behalf of a party, or become otherwise involved in legal proceedings.
REFERENCE MATERIAL RELATING TO THE COMMISSION
Please click on the links at the left to access:
-the enabling legislation (found in the Michigan Constitution) which created the Commission
-the specific Michigan Court Rules enacted by the Michigan Supreme Court applicable to the Commission
-the Commission’s Internal Operating Procedures
-the Michigan Code of Judicial Conduct
-Summaries of Non-Public Resolutions addressing confidential dismissals with some action by the Commission