Inquiries about Judicial Misconduct or Disability Proceedings

Inquiries about the judicial misconduct process will be received BY MAIL ONLY. You may send your inquiry via letter to this address: Attn: Judicial Misconduct, P.O. Box 193939, San Francisco, California 94119. The intake office will respond to your inquiry by mail within 14 days of receipt of your letter. PLEASE NOTE that most inquiries can be answered by referring to the Rules for Judicial-Conduct and Judicial-Disability Proceedings and other information found on this web page.

If you would like to confirm that we have received your complaint of judicial misconduct, please allow 14 to 21 days after mailing your complaint for processing and docketing, and you will receive a letter assigning the complaint a docket number. If you do not receive a confirmation letter within 21 days, that means we did not receive your documents and you should re-send the complaint.

Please note that judicial misconduct intake is separate from the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals Clerk's Office and front desk have no information about the judicial misconduct process and will not be able to answer any questions.

Guidelines for Judicial Misconduct or Disability Complaints

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. Above is a link to the Judicial Conference of the United States’ Judicial-Conduct Rules that explain what may be complained about, who may be complained about, where to file a complaint, and how the complaint will be processed. You must comply with these rules, or we may reject your complaint without considering your arguments.

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.

Please note the following to avoid the rejection or summary dismissal of your complaint:

You must provide a certain number of copies with your complaint and with your petition for review. If your complaint is about a single judge, you must file five copies of (1) the complaint form, (2) the statement of facts, and (3) any documents submitted. If the complaint is about more than one judge, you must provide one extra copy for each additional judge. Ninth Circuit Local Rule 6.1(e). With a petition for review, you must file an original and fifteen copies of the petition, along with ten copies of the original complaint. Ninth Circuit Local Rule 18.1(b)
You must either use the Ninth Circuit complaint form [link above], or shall identify all subject judge(s) on the first page of your complaint. Ninth Circuit Local Rule 6.1(a)
You must submit a statement of facts in support of your claims that is no more five pages (five sides), or 1,200 words, whichever is less, unless the Chief Judge grants permission for additional pages. You must submit your complaint on standard 8.5x11 size paper. Ninth Circuit Local Rule 6.1(b)
You must write out the following acknowledgment on your complaint form or on the first page of your complaint: “I understand that even if I successfully prove that the judge engaged in misconduct or is disabled, this procedure cannot change the outcome of the underlying case.” If you do not make this acknowledgment, your complaint will be returned to you.
You must provide concrete proof to support your claims of misconduct. For example, we will dismiss your complaint if you try to argue that a judge was biased or disabled, but the only evidence you provide is the ruling against you or your guess about what went on in the judge’s mind. No. 08-90172 (In re Complaint of Judicial Misconduct, 569 F.3d 1093, 1093 (9th Cir. Jud. Council 2009)
You may not request that the Chief Judge or Judicial Council take action in an underlying case. The Judicial Council only has power over administrative matters and is not a court. For example, you cannot use this misconduct procedure to request that the Chief Judge or the Judicial Council vacate an underlying order, force a judge to recuse himself, award damages, or grant any kind of relief that you would ask for from a court. No. 08-90066+ (In re Complaint of Judicial Misconduct, 567 F.3d 429 (9th Cir. Jud. Council 2009)
Just because you file a misconduct complaint, a judge need not recuse or stay your case, nor will a new judge be assigned to your underlying case. No. 08-90026 (In re Complaint of Judicial Misconduct, 583 F.3d 599 (9th Cir. Jud. Council 2009)
You can only file a misconduct complaint against federal judges. You cannot use this procedure to complain about court staff, opposing parties or opposing counsel. No. 08-90066+ (In re Complaint of Judicial Misconduct, 567 F.3d 429 (9th Cir. Jud. Council 2009)
While you should describe your complaint as best as you can, there is no need to use abusive language. We review all complaints carefully, so do not feel that your complaint must stand out to get a close look. All do. Using abusive language simply risks that we may restrict your ability to file further complaints. No. 08-90149+ (In re Complaint of Judicial Misconduct, 583 F.3d 599 (9th Cir. Jud. Council 2009)
You may be restricted from filing further misconduct complaints if you abuse this procedure. No. 07-89142 (In re Complaint of Judicial Misconduct, 552 F.3d 1146 (9th Cir. Jud. Council 2009))