On Thursday, October 6, 2022, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sued the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for failure to release complaints of professional misconduct by federal judges. The filing in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia is entitled “CREW v. DOJ.”

In January 2022, CREW, a non-profit, non-partisan organization that targets government officials who sacrifice the common good to special interests and personal gain, requested DOJ records of all complaints or submissions of possible professional misconduct by any U.S. Supreme Court Justice, federal court of appeals judge, district court judge, magistrate judge, or bankruptcy judge since 2010. The non-profit organization also requested any referrals made by the DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) to any disciplinary authority or state bar regarding possible professional misconduct by judges.

The complaint stated that the OPR failed to conduct an adequate search in response to CREW’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, and by failing to timely release all requested records in full to CREW, the OPR is in violation of FOIA.

CREW is requesting the Court to order the DOJ to immediately and fully process CREW’s FOIA requests and disclose all non-exempt records.

CREW submitted the FOIA request after an investigation by the Wall Street Journal in 2021 revealed that 131 judges had violated U.S. law and judicial ethics rules by owning the stock of a litigant in cases they heard. The WSJ report also revealed that since 2010, there have been 685 court cases in which judges failed to properly recuse themselves when overseeing cases involving companies whose stock they or their family held.

In a press release, CREW said that the released records would reveal the contents of judicial misconduct complaints filed, as well as any referrals that the OPR recommended to judicial disciplinary authorities.

CREW added that:

“Alongside other reforms like creating a binding Code of Conduct for the Supreme Court, banning judicial stock ownership, and passing other legislation that would limit judicial conflicts of interest, transparency around past allegations of misconduct will help the judiciary make strides towards long overdue accountability.”

A copy of the original filing can be found here.