The Board on Judicial Standards is an independent state agency that receives and acts upon complaints about Minnesota judges for judicial misconduct or wrongdoing. The Board also handles judicial disability matters. In addition, the Board issues advisory opinions and seeks to educate judges and others about judicial ethics.
Since its inception, the Supreme Court has removed, involuntarily retired, and censured several judges based on the Board's recommendation. Many more have been privately disciplined by the Board.
Minnesota Constitution, Article 6, Section 9, authorizes the legislature to “provide for the retirement, removal, or other discipline of any judge who is disabled, incompetent, or guilty of conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.” The legislature authorized the court to discipline a judge for “incompetence in performing the judge’s duties, habitual intemperance, or conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice that brings the judicial office into disrepute.”
The 1971 Legislature created the Board on Judicial Standards to assist in this task and authorized the Supreme Court to make rules to implement judicial discipline. Minn. Statutes 490A.01, 490A.02 (2006) [M.S.490.15 and 490.16 (1982).]
The Board has 10 members: one judge of the Court of Appeals, three trial judges, two lawyers who have practiced law in the state for at least 10 years, and four citizens who are not judges, retired judges, or lawyers. All members are appointed by the Governor and, except for the judges, require confirmation by the Senate. Members' terms are for four years and may be extended for an additional four years.