The Commission on Judicial Conduct of the State of Arizona disclosed this week that a complaint, with case number #21-289, has been dismissed but a warning letter to the judicial officer has been sent to the judicial officer, reminding him to refrain from giving legal advice and engaging in ex parte communication.

The complainant alleged that a justice of the peace gave her legal advice, which she relied upon, and was subsequently investigated for possible criminal charges.

The Complaint states, in pertinent part:

“. . . Judge then explains to me that due to Covid regulations, monatary [sic] evictions cannot take place but health & safety evictions can and are immediate. It is explained to me how to word it and I wail while all necessary forms are made ready for me. I do exactly as told, by Staggs, in and out of courtroom.

The Complaint continues:

“Judge grants immediate eviction order due to health & safety violations. Tells me to wait 24 hours then I can remove all code violations reguarding [sic] health & safety from my property. . . I follow the Judge’s directions perfectly and exactly.”

The Commission dismissed the complaint, stating among others:

“The role of the Commission on Judicial Conduct is to impartially determine whether a judicial officer has engaged in conduct that violates the Arizona Code of Judicial Conduct or Article 6.1 of the Arizona Constitution. There must be clear and convincing evidence of such a violation in order for the Commission to take disciplinary action against a judicial officer.”

The dispositive portion of the Order reads:

“After review, the Commission found that the judge improperly gave legal advice to a litigant and engaged in ex parte communication with her. While this was improper underRules1.2, 2.2, 2.9(A), and 3.10of the Code of Judicial Conduct, the Scope Section of the Code provides that not every transgression will result in the imposition of discipline. The Commission decided, after considering all the facts and circumstances, to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Commission Rules 16(b) and23(a), but to issue a warning letter to the judicial officer reminding him to refrain from giving legal advice and engaging in ex parte communication.”

A copy of the original filing can be found here.