Complaints

    Directions for Filing a Complaint

    The Board's brochure describes what the Board can investigate and how to file a complaint.  Please carefully review the brochure and this webpage before filing a complaint. 

    Anyone may file a complaint against a Minnesota state judge. Your complaint must be in writing. Simply write a letter to the Board specifically describing the judge’s conduct.  You may submit your complaint:

    1) By U.S. mail to:

    Minnesota Board on Judicial Standards
    1270 Northland Drive, Suite 160
    Mendota Heights, MN  55120

    or the link:

    2) File a complaint by email.

    Complaints will not be accepted by phone or in person, unless special accommodation is needed due to a disability.  Please do not appear at the Board office without a prior appointment.

    Please note the following:

    • Be sure to include the name of the judge, relevant dates, and names of witnesses. 
    • If the complaint concerns a court case, include the court file number. 
    • You may wish to provide copies of court documents or transcripts if these support your allegations against the judge.  (Do not send originals.) You must submit documents to the Board by mail or fax.  The Board will not accept attachmens to emails. 
    • Documents submitted by mail or fax must be received within 7 days of your email to be considered as part of your complaint.

    Accommodations for Disabilities and Language

    If you have a disability and need accommodation, or if you are having issues accessing our website, or if your ability to speak English is limited, please contact the Board office at (651) 296-3999, by TDD at 1-800-627-3529, or by e-mail at
    judicial.standards@state.mn.us.

    Jurisdiction

    State court judges.  The Board has jurisdiction over judges and judicial officers of the Minnesota judicial branch.

    Executive branch judges. The Board has jurisdiction over state tax court judges, judges of the Workers' Compensation Court of Appeals, and the chief administrative law judge (ALJ). The Board does not have jurisdiction over judges of the Office of Administrative Hearings other than the chief ALJ. Complaints against ALJs and workers’ compensation judges should be directed to the Office of Administrative Hearings, (651) 361-7875.

    Lawyers and federal judges.  The Board does not have jurisdiction over lawyers or federal judges.  Complaints against lawyers should be directed to the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility, (651) 296-3952. Complaints against federal judges should be directed to Michael Gans, Clerk, Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, 316 N. Robert Street, St. Paul, MN, 55101, (651) 848-1100.

    What Can the Board Investigate?

    The Board has the authority to review a judge's conduct for compliance with the Judicial Code.  Some examples of judicial misconduct are:

    • Improper courtroom demeanor or abusive treatment of parties, counsel, witnesses, jurors, and others
    • Improper conduct while on the bench, such as sleeping or intoxication
    • Expressions of bias based on gender, ethnicity, religion, national origin, disability, etc.
    • Allowing family, social, or political relationships to influence judicial
      decision-making
    • Conflicts of interest
    • Receiving gifts, bribes, loans, or favors from parties
    • Communicating improperly with only one side to a proceeding
    • Chemical substance abuse
    • Improper election campaign activities
    • Criminal behavior
    • Misuse of judicial position in personal activities
    • Ticket-fixing

    For additional examples, see the Board's discipline cases.

    The Board does not have the authority to direct a judge to take legal action, or to review a case for judicial error or mistake.  These functions are for the State’s appellate courts.

    In most cases, the Board cannot take action on complaints about a judge's rulings or exercise of discretion.  You may file a complaint concerning a judge's rulings if an appellate court finds that the judge acted improperly.

    If you need advice or assistance about what to do next about your case, you should talk to a lawyer. If you seek to change the outcome of the case, discuss this with a lawyer right away.

    Complaint Review Procedures

    Your complaint is carefully reviewed by the Board’s legal staff.  If your complaint is not within the Board's jurisdiction, you are promptly notified. 

    If your complaint is within the Board's jurisdiction, it is reviewed by the Board.  The Board may dismiss a complaint or conduct an investigation.  There is no provision for a complainant to appeal the dismissal of a complaint.  If the Board finds misconduct, the Board may issue a letter of caution, a private admonition, or a public reprimand.  You will receive notification of the action taken by the Board.

    In more serious cases, after a public hearing and recommendation from an appointed panel, the Supreme Court may impose public censure, suspension, removal, or involuntary retirement.

    A complaint flowchart provides a map of the complaint process.
     

    Confidentiality

    If the Board decides to investigate a complaint, the Board usually sends a copy of the complaint to the judge and asks for a response.  If the Board decides not to investigate a complaint, the judge is usually not notified of the complaint.  A complaint may become public if the Board issues a public reprimand or files formal charges against the judge. 

    A judge may not retaliate against a person for filing a complaint with the Board.  A person may not be sued for filing a complaint with the Board.