Without disclosing a name, the 9th Circuit has dismissed a judicial complaint claiming a bankruptcy judge somewhere in the circuit suffers from dementia. Chief Judge Alex Kozinski rejected the complaint following an internal investigation.
The complaint said the judge showed slow reaction time, moodiness and memory problems that were interpreted as signs of dementia. The complaining lawyer was given added deference because he reported familiarity with dementia symptoms after tending to a family member with similar symptoms.
Kozinski said such complaints are rare, perhaps because lawyers are reluctant to point an accusatory finger at judges, but the court nevertheless encourage them and promise confidentiality.
He conducted a limited inquiry by speaking with judges who have had the opportunity to observe the subject judge in private and public settings and appellate judges who have reviewed his work. They have reported no indication of symptoms and no decline in performance, according to the order issued July 15.
Kozinski also reviews appeals of cases from that judge for the last three years and found no issues regarding competency, he said.
Without more specific facts there is insufficient grounds to find diminished capacity for the judge. But Kozinski pointed out the matter would be subject to reconsideration if the complaining lawyer or other member of the public came forward with concrete evidence.
Case: In re Complaint of Judicial Misconduct, No. 14-90084