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. 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.
a Complaint of Judicial Misconduct or Judicial Disability Against a
Federal Judge (pdf)
The web site of each judicial circuit has the 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. The circuit web site also gives you access to the form you must use.
- First Circuit (Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Puerto Rico)
- Second Circuit (Connecticut, New York, Vermont)
- Third Circuit (Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virgin Islands)
- Fourth Circuit (Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia)
- Fifth Circuit (Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas)
- Sixth Circuit (Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee)
- Seventh Circuit (Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin)
- Eighth Circuit (Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota)
- Ninth Circuit (Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington)
- Tenth Circuit (Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, Wyoming)
- Eleventh Circuit (Alabama, Florida, Georgia)
- District of Columbia Circuit (District of Columbia)
- United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
Judicial Conduct and Disability Act of 1980. (See 28 U.S.C. §§ 351-364.)
Implementation of the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act of 1980: A Report to the Chief Justice — The Judicial Conduct and Disability Act 1980 Act authorizes any person to file a complaint alleging that a federal judge has engaged in conduct "prejudicial to the effective and expeditious administration of the business of the courts."
Opinions of the Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability
Rules for Judicial-Conduct and Judicial-Disability Proceedings (pdf)