The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct disclosed this week that Erica Cornejo, Judge for Precinct 2 of the Pima County Justice of the Peace, has been publicly reprimanded for dismissing two lawsuits without giving the complainant an opportunity to be heard.
The judge was charged with violating Rule 1.2, Rule 2.2, Rule 2.5(A), Rule 2.6(A), and Rule 2.1(A) of the Arizona Code of Judicial Conduct, which states:
A judge shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of
A judge shall uphold and apply the law, and shall perform all duties of judicial office fairly and impartially.
A judge shall perform judicial and administrative duties competently, diligently, and promptly.
A judge shall accord to every person who has a legal interest in a proceeding, or that person’s lawyer, the right to be heard according to law.
A judge shall cooperate and be candid and honest with judicial and lawyer disciplinary agencies.
The complainant Theodore E. Meckler alleged that Judge Cornejo violated the law and denied him an opportunity to be heard in two civil matters (CV20-022057 and CV21-003490-RC). Judge Cornejo dismissed both cases without giving the complainant a chance to speak.
According to the Arizona Justice Court Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 144(d):
Except as provided in sections (b), (d), and (e), a lawsuit shall only be dismissed upon motion and by court order, and only on terms and conditions that the court determines are fair and proper.
When the Commission requested Judge Cornejo to address her conduct, she submitted an extremely brief reply, stating that she did not believe the complainant had demonstrated a prima facie case entitling him to judgment. The Commission said that the judge failed to address her conduct as related to any of the cited Justice Court Rules or provisions of the Code.
The order states:
“Accordingly, Justice of the Peace Erica Cornejo is hereby publicly reprimanded for the conduct described above and pursuant to Commission Rule 17(a). The record, in this case, consisting of the complaint, the judicial officer’s response, and this order shall be made public as required by Commission Rule 9(a).”
A copy of the original filing can be found here.