Should retired judges be beyond the reach of the courts?

Source: OTHERWISE: Should retired judges be beyond the reach of the courts?

by George W. Conk

Alex Kozinski, Brett Kavanaugh, and Maryanne Trump Barry have all been relieved of the burden of inquiries into their conduct under the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 351–364, which empowers the federal judiciary “to determine whether a covered judge has engaged in conduct prejudicial to the effective and expeditious administration of the business of the courts or is unable to discharge the duties of office because of mental or physical disability.”

The three have in common that their resignations from the bench assertedly deprived the courts of jurisdiction because a judge is no longer a judge when he or she retires (Kozinski and Trump Barry) or steps up to the United States Supreme Court (Kavanaugh).  In each circumstance, according to the Second Circuit Judicial Council (in the Kozinski case) the “Act is concerned with individuals whocurrently exercise the powers of the office of federal judge”.  Because he or she “can no longer perform any judicial duties, he does not fall within the scope of persons who can be investigated under the Act” making the proceedings “unnecessary”.  Yet the two Circuit Judges collect pensions at full salary for life [28 U.S.C. 371(a)] and, if willing, may be “assigned judicial duties”. [28 U.S.C. 294] The now Associate Justice draws a salary as a member of the highest court and very much “performs judicial duties”. KEEP READING

 

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