On Tuesday, February 28, 2023, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit dismissed a judicial complaint filed against an unnamed District Judge for alleged failure to refer a prosecutor for disciplinary action over false evidence presentation.

The case is entitled “In the matter of Unnamed District Judge,” with case no. 04-23-90010.

In 2001, a complainant was convicted of armed bank robbery and other offenses and was sentenced to 984 months of imprisonment by the respondent who presided over the trial. The complainant then alleged that the latter violated the Code of Conduct for United States Judges by not referring the prosecutor for disciplinary action after discovering that the same had presented false evidence to a federal magistrate judge, to the grand jury, and to the court. However, this is contrary to the fact that the respondent never found that the prosecutor had submitted any false evidence.

The filing states:

“The complainant’s claims, however, are based on a false premise because the subject judge never found that the prosecutor had presented false evidence at any stage of the proceedings. To the extent that the complainant is challenging the subject judge’s rulings in his criminal and habeas proceedings, including the imposition of the prefiling injunction, his claims are subject to dismissal as merits-related.”

Moreover, the judicial complaint also insisted that the respondent should have recused himself from the case because he gained personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts when he presided over earlier related criminal cases.

The filing continues:

“Complainant contends that the judge assigned complainant’s case to himself in an attempt to influence the outcome. An allegation that a judge should have recused himself generally relates directly to merits of the judge’s rulings and must be dismissed.”

Lastly, the judicial complaint charged that the respondent engaged in ex parte communications and “off-the-record briefings” with the FBI and the prosecutor during the proceedings.

The filing further states:

“It appears that the basis for his claim is an internal FBI memorandum stating that the FBI had retested the DNA material, the original results had been validated, the results of the retesting “had been proffered to the judge,” and the prosecutor should be advised of any additional results.”

According to the court, the allegations that the respondent harbored bias, prejudice, partiality, or another improper purpose lacks sufficient evidence to raise an inference that misconduct has occurred. Moreover, neither the complainant nor the record presents evidence that the respondent assigned himself to the complainant’s criminal case or that the judge acted with any improper purpose.

In the alleged “ex parte communication” of the respondent with the authorities, the court stated that, contrary to the complainant’s claims, the memorandum neither states nor suggests that the “proffer” was actually an ex parte communication. The complainant thus fails to present sufficient evidence to raise an inference that misconduct exists.

Based on the foregoing reasons, the court decided to dismiss the judicial complaint filed against the respondent.

The Disposition states:

“Accordingly, this judicial complaint is dismissed as merits-related and lacking in evidentiary support pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 352(b)(l)(A)(ii), (iii). The complainant is advised that the filing of “repetitive, harassing, or frivolous complaints” may lead to the imposition of restrictions on the filing of future complaints. Rule IO(a), Rules for Judicial-Conduct and Judicial-Disability Proceedings.”

A copy of the original filing can be found here.