On Monday, June 12, 2023, the State of Vermont Judicial Conduct Board filed a formal complaint against Honobrale Patricia Duff, former Assistant Judge of Windham County, for fraudulently claiming compensation for hours she did not work and misusing funds designated for her judicial training.
The case is entitled “In the Matter of Patricia Duff,” with case no. 22.042.
The charges cited Code of Judicial Conduct Canon 1, Rule 1.1. Rule 1.2 and Rule 1.3.
A judge shall comply with the law, including the Code of Judicial Conduct.
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 impropriety.
A judge shall not abuse the prestige of the judicial office to advance the personal or economic interests of the judge or others or allow others to do so.
Judge Patricia Duff is under scrutiny as the Vermont Judicial Conduct Board has filed a formal complaint against her. The complaint accuses Judge Duff of engaging in misconduct by fraudulently claiming compensation for hours she did not work and misusing funds designated for judicial training. These alleged actions have been deemed as violations of both statutory law and the Vermont Code of Judicial Conduct.
According to the complaint, Judge Duff, who served as an Assistant Judge in Windham County since 2006, is accused of claiming payment for hours she did not work in her official capacity. The complaint alleges that she received compensation for a time during which she did not perform any judicial or county duties. Furthermore, she is accused of accepting funds intended for attending a national judges association conference but failing to attend the event and retaining a significant portion of the money for personal use.
The formal complaint asserts that Judge Duff’s actions violated various canons of the Vermont Code of Judicial Conduct, including compliance with the law, promoting confidence in the judiciary, and avoiding abuse of the prestige of judicial office. As per the complaint, the Judicial Conduct Board considers these allegations seriously and is seeking disciplinary action against Judge Duff.
The Notice of formal charges states:
“From February 2022 to June 2022, Respondent, in her capacity as Assistant Judge for Windham County, requested and was paid compensation for the time she did not perform any judicial or county duties, which constituted an economic benefit to Respondent. During the spring of 2022, the Treasurer for the County of Windham gave Respondent a check for S5,500. for the specific purpose of traveling to and attending a National Judges Association Conference in South Carolina. The Respondent did not attend the Judges Association Conference in South Carolina. Respondent returned only approximately $700.00 of the $5,500. paid to her for the conference.”
The Notice of formal charges continues:
“Respondent’s actions in claiming hours worked in a fraudulent manner, receiving payment for those hours, and failing to return money designated for travel and expenses in connection with her duties, amount to violations of applicable statutory law.”
In lieu of the aforementioned misconduct, the State of Vermont Judicial Conduct Board filed a formal complaint against the respondent. According to the notice, Judge Duff has the right to respond to the complaint within a specified timeframe and may choose to be represented by legal counsel and her failure to answer or deny the charges would be viewed as an admission of guilt. The case now awaits further proceedings to determine the appropriate course of action and potential consequences for Judge Patricia Duff.
The Notice of formal charges further states:
“WHEREFORE, Respondent’s conduct as set forth in this Complaint in receiving compensation not due and owing, and money without proper reimbursement, constitutes a violation of Canon 1, Rule 1.1. Rule 1.2 and Rule 1.3, of the Vermont Code of Judicial Conduct, and is therefore subject to the Formal Complaint process as set forth in the Rules for the Disciplinary Control of Judges. Respondent has a right to file a written Answer within twenty-one days of service, to be represented by counsel, to cross-examine witnesses, and to produce evidence on her own behalf. Pursuant to Rule 9(1) failure to answer or to deny misconduct or disability shall be deemed an admission of the charges.”
Judge Duff’s info can be found on ballotpedia.org.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.