On April 12, 2023, the Chief Judge of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit dismissed a complaint, with case no. 11-23-90031, alleging a U.S. District Judge of utilizing an improper ex parte communication.
The charges cited the Code of Conduct for United States Judges Canon 3A(4).
The Code of Conduct can be found here.
The complainant alleged that the subject judge received an improper ex parte communication from the prosecutor. The communication involved an email discussing a memorandum from the probation office and the possibility of the government filing a response to the complainant’s motion. The complainant argued that this communication violated judicial conduct rules and influenced the judge’s decision. He claimed that his due process rights were violated and that the judge used the communication to deny his motion.
In his response, the subject judge stated that one of the emails at issue was unsolicited and disregarded by staff, and that neither its existence nor contents were made known to the subject judge. He asserted that the district judges had established procedures where the probation office would identify cases potentially impacted by Amendment 782. They would then create memoranda explaining how the Amendment should be applied and send them to the presiding judge in each respective case. The District Judge stated that the email involving the probation office’s memorandum “was of no consequence.”
Moreover, the subject judge asserted that the determination of the complainant’s criminal-history category should be addressed through a formal motion in court. Additionally, the judge emphasized that his staff acted appropriately and ethically in handling the complainant’s motion, and any actions by others did not influence his decision in the case.
According to the court, the complaint does not provide sufficient evidence to support a finding of misconduct. The allegations made by the complainant regarding the subject judge’s official actions, rulings, findings, and orders are essentially challenges to the judge’s decisions or procedural rulings, which are related to the merits of the case. The remaining claims lack evidence to suggest that the subject judge engaged in improper ex parte communications, violated the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, or committed any other form of misconduct. Thus, the complaint is dismissed.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.