The short answer is yes they can. A lot of people believe once a Judge is elected they are immune from any sort of discipline or even accountability, accept for reelection every 6 years. But as this new article shows, that’s not the case.
In this case a sitting Minnesota Judge played a bit fast and loose on the rules requiring judges to live within the judicial district in which they work. Minnesota has 87 counties and 10 judicial districts. Which means that in this case, Judge Karasov sits in Hennepin County, which is the 4th Judicial District. The Minnesota Supreme Court suspended Judge Karasov after it came out that she lived in Chisago County for about 3 months and then was not the most forthright about it when investigators came around.
While this may seem like a technical issue that non-lawyers don’t care about, it does go to show how a Minnesota District Court Judge can be disciplined/suspended for violating the rules. A little digging will show that there are a number of cases where Judges have been suspended without pay for up to 6 months.
How To Make A Complaint
Great you say! But what about if I have a Judge who did something wrong? Who broke a rule? The proper way would be to make a complaint to the Minnesota Board on Judicial Standards, located HERE. This is the organization that has oversight on Judges in Minnesota.
What Can You Complain About?
The Judicial Standards Board hears about complaint that involve judicial misconduct, such as poor courtroom demeanor, taking too long to respond to cases, not removing themselves if they have a conflict of interest, chemical dependency issues or improper election activities. These are the common complaints.
What Can’t You Complain About?
The Board really has a limited scope about what they view as legitimate complaints. If you lost, you can’t complain, you can appeal, but probably not file a real misconduct complaint. I get a number of calls that Judges have a conflict of interest on a case because they perhaps know of the other person in a small town setting. Usually this won’t rise to the level of conflict of interest, the Judge has to have some relationship or reason they would favor the person, not just knowing of them.
Well there you go a brief look at Judges and complaint in Minnesota.