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Chapter 2.21 - Judicial Review Commission

2.21.005 Establishment of Judicial Review Commission
There is created and established a Judicial Review Commission for the purpose of investigating complaints about Municipal Judges, and recommending to City Council what action should be taken in response to complaints. (Ord. O-84-93 § 1 (part), 1984).

2.21.010 Appointment of Commission members
A. The City Council shall appoint three members to the Judicial Review Commission. These members shall be registered electors of the City of Lakewood. These electors shall not be attorneys at law.
B. In addition, the city shall appoint an attorney to the Judicial Review Commission. This member shall be designated by the president of the First Judicial District Bar Association. Said designee must have been an attorney in good standing in the State of Colorado for five years prior to appointment, and either must reside or must practice law within the corporate boundaries of the City of Lakewood.
C. The City Council shall further appoint a judge to the Judicial Review Commission. This member shall be either the Chief Judge of the First Judicial District, or another member of the judiciary of the First Judicial District who shall be designated by the Chief Judge. This member shall act as chairman of the Judicial Review Commission.
D. All members of the Commission shall have the power to cast one vote. Votes on any issue shall be decided by a simple majority.
E. No member of the Judicial Review Commission shall be related by blood or marriage within the third degree to any other member of the Commission. Nor shall any member be related by blood or marriage within the third degree to any judge of the municipal court of the City of Lakewood.
F. No member of the Judicial Review Commission shall receive any salary or compensation for his services as a member of the Commission. (Ord. O-84-93 § 1 (part), 1984).

2.21.015 Terms of office
A. Each member of the Judicial Review Committee shall be appointed for a term of four years. Members may be reappointed.
B. Any vacancy in the Commission caused by death, resignation, or change in residency of any Commission member shall be filled by City Council appointment. The Judicial Review Commission shall not meet until all five members are present.
C. The term of office of a member of the Judicial Review Committee shall end on March 31st of the last year of the member's term. (Ord. O-2003-30 § 1, 2003; Ord. O-84-93 § 1 (part), 1984).

2.21.020 Basis for complaint
A complaint may be filed, and the Commission shall have jurisdiction to act on the following grounds: that the judge is guilty of willful misconduct in office, willful or persistent failure to perform his duties, intemperance, or that he has a disability that interferes with the performance of his duties and is or is likely to become of a permanent nature. Willful misconduct shall include, but shall not be limited to, such conduct as is prejudicial to the administration of justice, that brings the judicial officer into disrepute, or violates the Colorado Code of Judicial Conduct. (Ord. O-93-25 § 43, 1993; Ord. O-84-93 § 1 (part), 1984).

2.21.025 Complaint procedure
A. Forms and information concerning the filing of complaints regarding Municipal Judges shall be made available to the public at the office of the Court Administrator.
B. Any verified complaint filed shall be mailed or delivered to the Chairman of the Commission.
C. The Commission shall meet when necessary to investigate complaints. Such meetings shall be called by the Chairman, with ten days' notice to all members. At meetings the Commission shall examine all new complaints and decide upon recommendations to be made to the City Council. (Ord. O-93-25 § 44, 1993; Ord. O-84-93 § 1 (part), 1984).

2.21.030 Confidentiality
A. All papers filed with, and action taken by the Commission shall be confidential; except as to the City Council. All papers filed with the Council by the Commission, shall not lose their confidential character. Violation of confidentiality by any participant in a Commission proceeding with respect to any papers filed with, proceedings before, or action by the Commission may constitute contempt.
B. The filing of papers with or the giving of testimony before the Commission shall be privileged in any action for defamation. No other publication of such papers or proceedings shall be so privileged; except that the record filed by the Commission with the Council shall continue to be privileged. (Ord. O-84-93 § 1 (part), 1984).

2.21.035 Subpoena power of the Commission
In the course of any proceedings before the Commission, the members of the Commission shall have the power to administer oaths and affirmations and to compel, by subpoena issued by the Commission, the attendance of witnesses and production of pertinent books, papers, and documents. Every subpoena shall clearly indicate on its face that it is issued in connection with a confidential proceeding before the Commission and that it is a contempt, punishable by order of the district court, for a person subpoenaed or any other participant in a Commission proceeding to in any way breach the confidentiality of such papers, proceedings, or action of the Commission. It shall not be regarded as a breach of confidentiality for a person subpoenaed to consult with an attorney, and the subpoena shall so state. (Ord. O-93-25 § 45, 1993; Ord. O-84-93 § 1 (part), 1984).


2.21.040 Duties
A. Upon receiving a complaint, the Judicial Review Commission shall decide whether the complaint merits investigation. If no investigation is required, the Commission shall make written findings to that effect. Copies of these written findings shall be submitted to City Council, to the person making the complaint, and to the judge involved. The Judicial Review Commission may decline investigation of a complaint if it determines that such complaint is obviously unfounded, frivolous, constitutes solely an appellate matter, or is not otherwise within the jurisdiction of the Commission.
B. If the complaint is believed to be merited, the Commission shall schedule a judicial review hearing. Notice of the hearing shall immediately be provided to the judge.
C. Hearings shall be scheduled within sixty days of the Commission's decision that a hearing is necessary. Witnesses shall be subpoenaed by the Commission. Witnesses shall give testimony, and shall be subject to examination by the members of the Commission and by the judge or his counsel. The judge may testify if he wishes, but if he elects to do so, he subjects himself to questioning by members of the Commission. Hearings shall be closed to the public. Hearings shall be conducted in accordance with the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure, and all facts must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence. A verbatim record shall be made and kept of the proceedings of the hearing by court reporter or tape recorder. At the close of the formal hearing, the Commission shall make written findings of fact and conclusions of law with respect to the issues of fact and law in the proceedings, and shall recommend such action as it may deem appropriate. If the Commission finds that none of the charges in the complaint have been proven, the complaint shall be dismissed. If the Commission finds that any of the charges in the complaint have been proven by a preponderance of the evidence, it shall recommend to the City Council the judge be disciplined by either written censure, temporary suspension with conditions for reinstatement, removal, or retirement. (Ord. O-84-93 § 1 (part), 1984).

2.21.045 Rights and duties of judges
A. A judge against whom a complaint has been filed shall have the right and reasonable opportunity to defend against charges by the introduction of evidence, to be represented by counsel or to represent himself, and to examine and cross-examine witnesses. He shall also have the right to the issuance of subpoenas for attendance of witnesses to testify or to produce books, papers, and other evidentiary matter. Subpoenas shall be issued by the chairman of the Commission or his designee.
B. If it appears to the Commission at any time during the proceedings that the judge is not competent to act for himself, or it has been judicially determined previously that he is not competent to act for himself, the Commission shall appoint a guardian ad litem, unless the judge has a guardian who will represent him. In the appointment of such guardian ad litem, consideration may be given to the wishes of the members of the judge's immediate family. The guardian or guardian ad litem may claim and exercise any right and privilege and make any defense for the judge with the same force and effect as if claimed, exercised, or made by the judge if competent; and, whenever these rules provide for serving or giving notice or sending any matter to the judge, such notice or matter shall also be served, given or sent to the guardian or guardian ad litem.
C. The Commission, upon receiving a statement filed against a judge by an attorney as complainant, may forthwith inquire whether or not the attorney requests that the judge disqualify himself on any particular case or cases in which the attorney is involved. If the answer is in the affirmative, or if without such inquiry the attorney requests, the Commission, if the circumstances so warrant, shall notify the judge of the statement and require his disqualification on the case or cases designated. The Commission, if the circumstances warrant, shall notify the judge of a statement and direct the judge to disqualify himself in a case or cases involving a nonlawyer complainant. Upon the giving of notice to a judge to disqualify himself, the judge shall recuse himself forthwith. After completion of action on a matter concerning a judge, the order of recusal shall be terminated unless otherwise directed by the Commission. The judge and his attorney of record shall be notified of the Commission's action. (Ord. O-84-93 § 1 (part), 1984).

2.21.050 Disciplinary action by the City Council
A. Upon receipt of the recommendations of the Judicial Review Commission, the City Council shall review such recommendation along with the record and the findings of the Commission. The City Council shall then decide upon the action to be taken. Any disciplinary action taken must be accomplished by a majority vote of all members of the Council.
B. The Council may discipline a judge through written censure. Such disciplinary letter shall include the findings of fact and conclusion of law of the Judicial Review Commission, and a detailed explanation of the City Council's reasons for censure.
C. The Council may suspend a judge, with or without pay, for a period not to exceed ninety days, on the condition he fulfill such conditions as may be deemed necessary. Such conditions may include, but shall not be limited to, obtaining legal training in a specific area or obtaining medical or psychiatric care. If the care or training required as a condition of suspension is not obtained by the end of such suspension, the judge shall be removed from office.
D. If it appears from the record of the hearing before the Judicial Review Commission, and the findings of fact and conclusions of law from that proceeding, that the judge suffers from a medical affliction or condition which will not or cannot be alleviated with treatment, and which substantially impairs the judge's ability to fulfill the judicial function, the Council may vote to retire the judge. Such retirement shall become effective thirty days after the Council vote, but during that thirty-day period the judge shall be suspended, with pay, from his judicial duties. Upon an order for retirement, the judge shall thereby be retired with the same rights and privileges as if the judge had retired pursuant to statute and ordinance.
E. The City Council, after review of the record and findings of the Judicial Review Commission, may remove a judge from the municipal court by a majority vote of all members of the City Council. Such removal shall be effective immediately. (Ord. O-84-93 § 1 (part), 1984).

2.21.055 Contempt
A. The following shall constitute contempt:
1. Misconduct of any persons in the presence of the Commission while it is performing its official duties, or misconduct so near thereto as to obstruct the Commission in the performance of its duties, or resistance to any lawful process, order, or rule of the Commission;
2. Any person subpoenaed to appear and give testimony or to produce books, papers, or documents, who fails or refuses to appear or to produce such books, papers, or documents, or any person appearing but refusing to be duly sworn to testify or any person having been duly sworn to testify who refuses to answer any proper question;
3. Violation of confidentiality by any participant in a Commission proceeding with respect to any papers filed with, proceedings before, or action taken by the Commission;
4. Failure of a judge to comply with an order or request of the Commission;
B. Any participant in a commission proceeding may be cited for contempt of the Commission by order of the District Court, requiring such participant in a Commission proceeding to show cause why he should not be held in contempt. The Commission may proceed to consider the citation and the response thereto and thereafter shall promptly advise the court of its findings, conclusions, and recommendations with respect to the alleged contempt. The court may impose such penalties or sanctions as it deems appropriate. The proceeding pertaining to such contempt shall not lose its confidential character. (Ord. O-84-93 § 1 (part), 1984).