Functions & Procedures

General

The Judicial Qualifications Commission was created by Constitutional Amendment in 1972, and amended in 2016, to conduct investigations and hearings with respect to complaints of misconduct by Georgia judges, and is also authorized to issue opinions regarding appropriate judicial conduct.  The Commission operates under rules established by the Supreme Court.


Complaints must be based on violations of one of the four Canons of judicial conduct.

Code of Judicial Conduct (PDF)

Submitting a Complaint

Anyone may file a complaint with the Judicial Qualifications Commission by obtaining the complaint form at the bottom of this page. The complaint, which must be in writing with an original signature, must be received by the Commission staff before any action or investigation may begin. The complaint must state facts that substantiate the alleged misconduct. Upon receipt of a complaint, the Executive Director may authorize a preliminary inquiry. After an analysis, the complaint and additional relevant information are sent to each Commission member to review prior to its monthly meeting. The members will discuss and determine the appropriate action, which may include the following:

  • Close the complaint upon initial review because the allegations did not constitute misconduct under the law and standards of judicial misconduct in Georgia.
  • Investigate the complaint. This could entail writing to the judge requesting his or her explanation of the matter, reviewing court and non-court documents, interviewing witnesses, monitoring courtrooms, etc.
  • Require the judge under investigation to appear before the Commission and respond to questioning.

Depending upon the outcome of the investigation the Commission may take the following action:

  • Close the complaint if the allegations are found to be without merit.
  • Admonish or reprimand the judge for his misconduct by use of any of the informal sanctions available.
  • When the situation warrants, formal proceedings are filed. In such proceedings, the judge has a right to defend against the charges and to be represented by an attorney. If a violation is found, the Commission may recommend to the Supreme Court retirement, censure, suspension or removal from office.

The Complaint Process

Judicial misconduct is a violation of the Judicial Code of Conduct. This site contains Canons and rules intended to state basic standards which serve to govern the conduct of, and provide guidance to judges at all levels. Common violations include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • failure to perform duties impartially and diligently
  • failure to dispose promptly of the business of the court
  • conflict of interest, and
  • other conduct which reflects adversely on the integrity of the judiciary.

Judicial conduct does not include:

  • rulings on the law and / or the facts,
  • matters within the discretion of the trial court,
  • rulings on the admissibility of evidence,
  • rulings involving alimony, child support, custody or visitation rights,
  • sentences imposed by the Court, and
  • believing or disbelieving witnesses.

Impairment

Alcohol or drug abuse by a judicial officer may suggest a possible impairment in the performance of judicial duties. In the absence of associated judicial misconduct the Commission would initially pursue such matters with a view toward medical intervention. If it appears that instances of misconduct resulted from alcohol or drug abuse, the Commission would emphasize medical treatment while mindful of its public responsibility to charge and prosecute aberrant conduct.  

Incapacity

In the event of a complaint of physical or mental incapacity of a judge, the Commission would proceed with sensitivity into the investigation being fully cognizant of the many years of able service to the State the judge may have given. Most judges who have become disabled retire without any action on the part of the Commission. In other cases, the filing of a complaint alleging incapacity may lead to a voluntary resignation or retirement by the judge.