Professor Rotunda on Responsibility and Judicial Independence
On the heels of controversy over Los Angeles federal Judge Manuel L. Real's actions in a bankruptcy case, two U.S. House members have introduced legislation that would create an independent inspector general for the judicial branch. Currently federal judges are appointed for life, and allegations of misconduct are reviewed by circuit judicial councils, with proceedings primarily occurring in secret and resulting in dismissal of more than 99% of the complaints.
Commenting on the judicial council's failure to sanction Real, Professor Ronald D. Rotunda stated, "Judges routinely, and correctly, tell us that we are not above the law. Well, judges aren't either. If the reviewing panel" in the Real case "can't or won't do anything," Congress can.
Complaint Against Judge Has Broader Ramifications, Los Angeles Times, May 7, 2006. By Henry Weinstein.