18 January 2017

Mandated Reporter Series: State Law Requires Sacramento Family Court Judges To Report Attorney and Judge Misconduct

Under state law, California judges are mandated reporters of attorney misconduct. Judicial Ethics Code § 3D(2), Business and Professions Code §§ 6086.7 and 6086.8, and California Rules of Court rules 10.609 and 10.1017 each require judges to report specific types of lawyer misconduct. The reporting duty is mandated by law, and is not discretionary.  

One type of common attorney misconduct is the failure to disclose adverse law in presenting a matter in court. The failure to identify law adverse to an attorneys position in court filings and during oral argument violates the California Rules of Professional Conduct, Business and Professions Code, ABA Model Rules, and decisional law. The document set embedded at the bottom of this post includes these authorities. 

One type of common judge misconduct is the failure to report or otherwise take appropriate corrective action when an attorney fails to disclose adverse law. Despite the routine occurrence of this type of judge misconduct, Commission on Judicial Performance judge disciplinary statistics indicate that judges are rarely held accountable under Judicial Ethics Code § 3D(2) for failing to hold attorneys accountable. CJP reform advocates contend this absence of enforcement by the agency exacerbates the rule of law breakdown prevalent in California courts.