Judicial officers are employees of federal and state courts and their role is to ensure fair application of justice. In Texas, judges are expected to respect to the Code of Judicial Conduct, which command them to honor the judicial office and enhance confidence in the legal system. A senior judge can take appropriate action after establishing that another judicial officer has breached the Code of Judicial Conduct. He/she should inform the State Commission about Judicial Conduct, or undertake the right action. According to CRS Report for Congress, the current statutory structure that is concerned with complaints against federal judges, as well as judicial discipline, was ratified in 2002, through the Judicial Improvement Act (Barbour, 2011).
In Texas, the judicial process usually commence when an individual files a complaint, claiming that a judge has committed an act that warrants discipline. For instance, in the case Baze v. Rees (2008), the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, had to review a case where Sharon Keller, a Court of Criminal Appeals Judge, was accused of denying a death row criminal due process right to appeal (Bessette, 2012). The Supreme Court provides the procedure that the commission should use to review the case. The commission may exercise its own authority to issue private or public reprimand to warn the culprit. Typically, an investigation to be accompanied by recommendations that are subject to review, as well as possibility to incorporate more evidence and hearings.
The commission has the authority to sanction the judge in question, or recommend his/her removal. The commission may advise the Supreme Court to suspend the judge for breaching the rules propagated by the court. The committee may impose informal reprimands when the conduct of the judge is deemed improper, and this may not require punishment by the Supreme Court. If the commission recommends that the judge be removed from his/her office, a special tribunal, which is selected by the chief justice, must assess such recommendation. The commission may propose for the retirement of the judge from the office, in case it determines his/her mental condition has played a role in preventing him/her from performing judicial services competently. The details of such cases may be released to the public by the commission with the permission from the Supreme Court. If the review panel opts to remove the judge, he/she can appeal the case to the Texas Supreme Court.
The Burden of Proof
The burden of proof involves the responsibility of a party to attest its claims at trial. According to Walton (2014), the burden of proof places a standard on what has to be considered as substantiation in evidential interpretation in law. It enables a trial to reach at a decision on one side in a contested case, despite not knowing all the facts about a case. For instance, a judgment has to be delivered in a criminal case that occurred a long time ago, even though there may be no witnesses to testify the crime. Evidential reasoning in law can bring to a conclusion of a case on conditions of uncertainty, inadequate knowledge, or inconsistency. Over the years, the burden of proof pertaining to exclusion in Texas law has experienced some changes. Originally, the insured people in Texas had the burden to plead, but the legislature modified such requirements through statute. Nowadays, the insurer is the one who carries the burden of proof concerning exclusion.
Barbour, E. C. (2011, April 7). Judicial Discipline Process: An Overview. Congressional Research Service, CRS Report for Congress. Retrieved on 17 Feb. 2015 from http://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R41758.pdf
Bessette, J. M. (2012). American government and politics: Deliberation, democracy, and citizenship. Boston, MA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.
Walton, D. N. (2014). Burden of proof, presumption and argumentation. New York, NY : Cambridge University Press.
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