The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent


Judicial Council rejects ethics complaint based on Judge Edith Jones's speech about the death penalty


The decision is here; it was handed down in August, but it's only now being publicized, together with an appeal by complainants. The facts are complicated, and the Report of the Special Committee (which begins on page 5) is pretty readable, though long, so I'll refer readers to it.

Because Jones's speech wasn't recorded, and because the witnesses' recollections differ (and in any case fall prey to the perils inherent in such recollections), it's not easy to know just what was said. But the Report's legal analysis strikes me as persuasive, assuming its factual conclusions are correct. (Those factual conclusions are based on a large array of affidavits and interviews that I of course can't personally evaluate.)

Note that Jones was found culpable for being rude to a colleague—a separate claim brought in the complaint—but not disciplined because she promptly apologized. Note also that the opinion comes from the Judicial Council of the D.C. Circuit, and Jones is on the Fifth Circuit; the complaint was transferred to the D.C. Circuit so as not to be heard by the judge's immediate colleagues. The Report was written by D.C. Circuit Judges Merrick Garland and Thomas Griffith and by D.C. District Court Judge Richard W. Roberts.

I commented on the complaint when it was filed, though I think I didn't blog about it then.