Complaints

    Directions for Filing a Complaint

    A complaint against a state judge may be sent by U.S. mail to:

    Minnesota Board on Judicial Standards
    2025 Centre Pointe Blvd., Suite 180
    Mendota Heights, MN  55120

    Any individual or group may file a complaint. Your complaint should be in writing. Simply write a letter specifically describing the judge’s conduct. Be sure to include the name of the judge, relevant dates, names of witnesses, and sources of information. You may wish to attach copies (not originals) of court documents or transcripts if these support your allegations against the judge. Complaints will not be accepted by e-mail.  See FAQs.  Persons with complaints should not appear at the Board office without a prior appointment.

    The Board does not have jurisdiction over lawyers, federal judges, administrative law judges, or workers' compensation 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 St, St. Paul, MN, 55101, (651) 848-1100. Complaints against administrative law judges and workers’ compensation judges should be directed to the Office of Administrative Hearings, (651) 361-7831.

    Accommodations for Disabilities

    If you cannot submit a complaint in writing due to a disability or other reason, you, or someone on your behalf, may contact the Board to request accommodation.  The Board telephone number is 651-296-3999.  For TTY, call the State Relay service toll-free at 1-800-627-3529.

    Was a Judge's Conduct Improper?

    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 improper treatment of parties, counsel, witnesses, jurors, court staff and others
    • Conflict of interest
    • Chemical abuse
    • Engaging in improper election campaign activities
    • Unauthorized "ex parte" communications (communicating with a party to a lawsuit outside the presence of the other party unless authorized by law)

    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, mistake or other legal grounds. These functions are for the state’s appellate courts.

    Allegations stemming from a judge’s rulings or exercise of discretion do not provide a basis for Board action, and personal dissatisfaction alone cannot be grounds for judicial investigation.  You may file a complaint concerning a judge's rulings or discretionary acts 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 without delay.

    Complaint Review Procedures

    Your complaint is acknowledged by letter. It is carefully reviewed by the Board’s legal staff and the Board. Complaints that include supportable allegations of misconduct within the Board’s jurisdiction will be handled promptly as circumstances permit. The Board may dismiss a complaint or conduct an inquiry.  If the Board finds misconduct, the Board may issue a private admonition or public reprimand. 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.

    You will receive notification of the action taken by the Board.

    Confidentiality

    If the Board decides to investigate a complaint, the Board usually notifies the judge of the name of the complainant.  If the matter is sufficiently serious to warrant a hearing, a complainant may be called to testify at that hearing.

    All proceedings of the Board are confidential until the formal statement of complaint and response have been filed with the Minnesota Supreme Court. At any time, a judge under investigation may waive confidentiality.

    An absolute privilege attaches to any information or related testimony submitted to the Board or its staff, and no civil action against an informant, witness, or their counsel may be instituted or predicated on such information.