Virgin Islands Commission on Judicial Conduct
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FAQ
•   How must a complaint be filed?
•   When must a complaint be filed?
•   Do I have to use the Commission's complaint form?
•   Can I e-mail a complaint to the CJC?
•   How can I check the status of a complaint I filed with the CJC?
•   Will my identity be revealed to the judge?
•   Will my complaint be made public?
•   When do proceedings become public?
•   Will filing a complaint with the Commission change the decision in my lawsuit?
•   Will my complaint automatically disqualify the judge from further involvement in my case?
•   Should I wait to hear from the Commission before I appeal my case?
•   Does the Commission act on all complaints?
•   If my complaint is justified, will the Commission tell me how the judge was disciplined?
•   If I am uncertain about whether to file a complaint, is there someone I can talk to first?
•   What are the ethics standards for state judges?
•   How do investigations begin?
•   What is involuntary retirement?
•   Who is on the CJC?
•   How does the CJC hold proceedings?
•   How is the CJC structured?
•   When does the case come to the Supreme Court?
•   Why doesn't the Supreme Court impose discipline as soon as the CJC makes its recommendation?
•   What kinds of discipline can a judge receive?
•   Can judges be suspended from office while under investigation for misconduct?
•   How can I watch CJC cases before the Supreme Court?
•   How must a complaint be filed?
Complaints can be filed using a Complaint Form provided by the CJC. Complaints cannot be filed with the Virgin Islands Supreme Court, only with the CJC.
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•   When must a complaint be filed?
The CJC can investigate a judge for misconduct if a complaint is filed at any time while the judge is in office and for one year thereafter.
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•   Do I have to use the Commission's complaint form?
Preferably Yes. The Commission's complaint form should be used, if possible, but a signed and sworn letter is acceptable.
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•   Can I e-mail a complaint to the CJC?
No. See the CJC's Complaint Form for instructions.
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•   How can I check the status of a complaint I filed with the CJC?
You should contact CJC staff at the phone number or address above. The Virgin Islands Supreme Court does not have access to these records.
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•   Will my identity be revealed to the judge?
As a general rule, yes. The Commission notifies judges about complaints unless there is good reason to withhold this information.
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•   Will my complaint be made public?
Yes. If your complaint results in discipline or formal charges in the Virgin Islands Supreme Court, your name and the judge's name and court will be made public. If the complaint is dismissed, however, your name and the judge's name and court will not be made public.
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•   When do proceedings become public?
The Rules specifically make all ethical complaints against judges confidential. Confidentiality ends only when the CJC files with the Supreme Court a recommendation for sanction. This is a public record and is the first public announcement that a formal investigation is underway.
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•   Will filing a complaint with the Commission change the decision in my lawsuit?
No. Commission proceedings have no effect on judicial decisions or appeals.
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•   Will my complaint automatically disqualify the judge from further involvement in my case?
No. Filing a complaint does not automatically disqualify a judge from hearing a case.
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•   Should I wait to hear from the Commission before I appeal my case?
No. The time allowed for an appeal may expire, and the Commission cannot grant extensions for filing appeals.
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•   Does the Commission act on all complaints?
Yes. Every complaint is reviewed by the Commission and Disciplinary Counsel.
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•   If my complaint is justified, will the Commission tell me how the judge was disciplined?
Yes. A copy of the order containing the Commission's decision will be sent to you at the close of the case.
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•   If I am uncertain about whether to file a complaint, is there someone I can talk to first?
Yes. You can call the Commission's office and talk to a member of the staff or Disciplinary Counsel before you decide to file a complaint. The staff member will not be able to tell you if a judge has actually committed misconduct or give you any legal advice.
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•   What are the ethics standards for state judges?
The ethical standards for judges are called the Code of Judicial Conduct. They apply to all sitting judges.
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•   How do investigations begin?
The CJC can investigate complaints made by individuals. During the initial investigation, the Commission’s Rules provide that all CJC complaints, investigations, and proceedings are confidential.
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•   What is involuntary retirement?
The CJC can recommend that a judge be involuntarily retired due to serious illness that interferes with the ability to perform the duties of the office. In these cases, the judge is not being accused of misconduct. Filings in these cases may be confidential under local laws protecting medical records of employees.
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•   Who is on the CJC?
The Commission consists of nine members with diverse backgrounds who serve four-year terms. Three judge members are appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and Presiding Judge of the Superior Court, one of whom is a magistrate. Three attorney members are appointed: one by President of the Virgin Islands Bar Association, one by the Governor and one by the Presiding Judge of the Superior Court. Three public members, who cannot be attorneys or active or retired judges, are appointed: one by the Governor and two by the President of the Virgin Islands Legislature.
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•   How does the CJC hold proceedings?
The hearing panel of CJC will review the case against the judge and hear competing arguments from both sides. The amount of time involved in conducting hearings varies greatly from case to case. Some judges agree or "stipulate" to some form of discipline, which means there will be no further proceedings and the case will go on to the Supreme Court for final determination. However, the Supreme Court can reject these stipulations. If a judge contests the charges, more time and more hearings usually are involved. The CJC hearing panel schedules its own hearings.
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•   How is the CJC structured?
The CJC is divided into two panels, an "investigative panel" that acts much like a grand jury, and a "hearing panel" that acts much like a panel of judges reviewing the case.
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•   When does the case come to the Supreme Court?
Once the CJC panel has concluded its hearings, it files its findings and recommendation for any discipline with the Supreme Court. If the judge has stipulated to discipline, the stipulation also will be filed with the Court. The Supreme Court then must decide whether to schedule oral argument. Briefs can be filed with the Court before it decides the case. If oral argument is scheduled, it is announced in advance and published on the Court's website.
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•   Why doesn't the Supreme Court impose discipline as soon as the CJC makes its recommendation?
The CJC only has authority to impose minor sanctions such as reprimands and must recommend more serious discipline to the Supreme Court. This is only a recommendation, not a final determination. Final authority to determine whether the CJC's recommendation is legally correct rests with the Supreme Court after the parties have had a chance to make arguments according to the Rules of Procedure. This means that the parties have a right to file briefs making separate arguments to the Supreme Court unless the judge waives that right, to file appropriate motions, and to request that the Court schedule the case for oral arguments.
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•   What kinds of discipline can a judge receive?
Possible forms of discipline can include one or more of the following:
  • No discipline
  • A private or public reprimand
  • A fine
  • Suspension from office
  • Removal from office
  • Involuntary retirement due to serious illness
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  • •   Can judges be suspended from office while under investigation for misconduct?
    Judges can be temporarily suspended from office while under investigation. The CJC can ask the Supreme Court to suspend with or without pay while it investigates a judge. No other governmental entities can suspend a judge from office pending an investigation.
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    •   How can I watch CJC cases before the Supreme Court?
    All of the Supreme Court's arguments are broadcast on the Internet webcasts and video archives also are available via the Internet from the Supreme Court’s website for free under the Media Services page. Broadcasts and videotapes are only available for proceedings in the Supreme Court, not proceedings before the CJC.
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    Virgin Islands Commission on Judicial Conduct
    Virgin Islands Commission on Judicial Conduct
    No. 161B Crown Bay
    St. Thomas, Virgin Islands 00802
    Telephone: (340) 774-2237
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