Judicial Conduct & Disability

Complaint Procedure

Codes of Conduct and related sources of authority provide standards of behavior for judges and others in the federal court family. The Judicial Conduct and Disability Act allows complaints alleging that a federal judge has engaged in “conduct prejudicial to the effective and expeditious administration of the business of the courts” or has become, by reason of a temporary or permanent condition, “unable to discharge the duties” of the judicial office.

Congress has created a procedure that permits any person to file a complaint in the courts about the behavior of federal judges—but not about the decisions federal judges make in deciding cases. This document can help prepare you for filing a complaint of judicial misconduct or judicial disability against a federal judge. If a complaint is filed against a United States District Judge, a United States Magistrate Judge, or a United States Bankruptcy Judge, you must file it at the clerk's office of the United States Court of Appeals for the region in which the judge serves.  Here in the state of Alabama that means you must file it in Atlanta with the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The Eleventh Circuit website provides a copy of the complaint form and complaint filing instructions. Please do not hesitate to contact our office or the Eleventh Circuit if you have any questions regarding this process.

Almost all complaints in recent years have been dismissed because they do not follow the law about such complaints. The law says that complaints about judges’ decisions and complaints with no evidence to support them must be dismissed. If you are a litigant in a case and believe the judge made a wrong decision—even a very wrong decision—you may not use this procedure to complain about the decision. An attorney can explain the rights you have as a litigant to seek review of a judicial decision.