HJR 7037

House Joint Resolution
2A joint resolution proposing an amendment to Section 12 of
3Article V of the State Constitution to provide that
4records, materials, and proceedings of the Judicial
5Qualifications Commission shall be public upon the filing
6of formal charges or upon a finding that formal charges
7will not be filed, to provide exceptions, and to delete
8outdated provisions.
10Be It Resolved by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
12     That the following amendment to Section 12 of Article V of
13the State Constitution is agreed to and shall be submitted to
14the electors of this state for approval or rejection at the next
15general election or at an earlier special election specifically
16authorized by law for that purpose:
19     SECTION 12.  Discipline; removal and retirement.-
21qualifications commission is created.
22     (1)  There shall be a judicial qualifications commission
23vested with jurisdiction to investigate and recommend to the
24Supreme Court of Florida the removal from office of any justice
25or judge whose conduct, during term of office or otherwise,
26occurring on or after November 1, 1966, (without regard to the
27effective date of this section) demonstrates a present unfitness
28to hold office, and to investigate and recommend the discipline
29of a justice or judge whose conduct, during term of office or
30otherwise occurring on or after November 1, 1966 (without regard
31to the effective date of this section), warrants such
32discipline. For purposes of this section, discipline is defined
33as any or all of the following: reprimand, fine, suspension with
34or without pay, or lawyer discipline. The commission shall have
35jurisdiction over justices and judges regarding allegations that
36misconduct occurred before or during service as a justice or
37judge if a complaint is made no later than one year following
38service as a justice or judge. The commission shall have
39jurisdiction regarding allegations of incapacity during service
40as a justice or judge. The commission shall be composed of:
41     a.  Two judges of district courts of appeal selected by the
42judges of those courts, two circuit judges selected by the
43judges of the circuit courts, and two judges of county courts
44selected by the judges of those courts;
45     b.  Four electors who reside in the state, who are members
46of the bar of Florida, and who shall be chosen by the governing
47body of the bar of Florida; and
48     c.  Five electors who reside in the state, who have never
49held judicial office or been members of the bar of Florida, and
50who shall be appointed by the governor.
51     (2)  The members of the judicial qualifications commission
52shall serve staggered terms, not to exceed six years, as
53prescribed by general law. No member of the commission except a
54judge shall be eligible for state judicial office while acting
55as a member of the commission and for a period of two years
56thereafter. No member of the commission shall hold office in a
57political party or participate in any campaign for judicial
58office or hold public office; provided that a judge may campaign
59for judicial office and hold that office. The commission shall
60elect one of its members as its chairperson.
61     (3)  Members of the judicial qualifications commission not
62subject to impeachment shall be subject to removal from the
63commission pursuant to the provisions of Article IV, Section 7,
64Florida Constitution.
65     (4)a.  The commission shall adopt rules regulating its
66proceedings, the filling of vacancies by the appointing
67authorities, the disqualification of members, the rotation of
68members between the panels, and the temporary replacement of
69disqualified or incapacitated members. The commission's rules,
70or any part thereof, may be repealed by general law enacted by a
71majority vote of the membership of each house of the
72legislature, or by the supreme court, five justices concurring.
73The commission shall have power to issue subpoenas.
74     b.  While an Until formal charges against a justice or
75judge are filed by the investigative panel is investigating a
76complaint, with the clerk of the supreme court of Florida all
77proceedings by or before the commission and all records related
78thereto shall be confidential. All records, materials, and
79proceedings related to a complaint and investigation shall be
80public upon either the filing of formal charges with the hearing
81panel or upon a finding of the investigative panel that formal
82charges will not be brought regarding a complaint. However,
83information that is otherwise confidential or exempt shall
84retain its status. This subparagraph applies to all records of
85the commission; provided, however, upon a finding of probable
86cause and the filing by the investigative panel with said clerk
87of such formal charges against a justice or judge such charges
88and all further proceedings before the commission shall be
90     (5)  The commission shall have access to all information
91from all executive, legislative and judicial agencies, including
92grand juries, subject to the rules of the commission. At any
93time, on request of the speaker of the house of representatives
94or the governor, the commission shall make available all
95information in the possession of the commission for use in
96consideration of impeachment or suspension, respectively.
97     (b)  PANELS.-The commission shall be divided into an
98investigative panel and a hearing panel as established by rule
99of the commission. The investigative panel is vested with the
100jurisdiction to receive or initiate complaints, conduct
101investigations, dismiss complaints, and upon a vote of a simple
102majority of the panel submit formal charges to the hearing
103panel. The hearing panel is vested with the authority to receive
104and hear formal charges from the investigative panel and upon a
105two-thirds vote of the panel recommend to the supreme court the
106removal of a justice or judge or the involuntary retirement of a
107justice or judge for any permanent disability that seriously
108interferes with the performance of judicial duties. Upon a
109simple majority vote of the membership of the hearing panel, the
110panel may recommend to the supreme court that the justice or
111judge be subject to appropriate discipline.
112     (c)  SUPREME COURT.-The supreme court shall receive
113recommendations from the judicial qualifications commission's
114hearing panel.
115     (1)  The supreme court may accept, reject, or modify in
116whole or in part the findings, conclusions, and recommendations
117of the commission and it may order that the justice or judge be
118subjected to appropriate discipline, or be removed from office
119with termination of compensation for willful or persistent
120failure to perform judicial duties or for other conduct
121unbecoming a member of the judiciary demonstrating a present
122unfitness to hold office, or be involuntarily retired for any
123permanent disability that seriously interferes with the
124performance of judicial duties. Malafides, scienter or moral
125turpitude on the part of a justice or judge shall not be
126required for removal from office of a justice or judge whose
127conduct demonstrates a present unfitness to hold office. After
128the filing of a formal proceeding and upon request of the
129investigative panel, the supreme court may suspend the justice
130or judge from office, with or without compensation, pending
131final determination of the inquiry.
132     (2)  The supreme court may award costs to the prevailing
134     (d)  The power of removal conferred by this section shall
135be both alternative and cumulative to the power of impeachment.
136     (e)  Notwithstanding any of the foregoing provisions of
137this section, if the person who is the subject of proceedings by
138the judicial qualifications commission is a justice of the
139supreme court of Florida all justices of such court
140automatically shall be disqualified to sit as justices of such
141court with respect to all proceedings therein concerning such
142person and the supreme court for such purposes shall be composed
143of a panel consisting of the seven chief judges of the judicial
144circuits of the state of Florida most senior in tenure of
145judicial office as circuit judge. For purposes of determining
146seniority of such circuit judges in the event there be judges of
147equal tenure in judicial office as circuit judge the judge or
148judges from the lower numbered circuit or circuits shall be
149deemed senior. In the event any such chief circuit judge is
150under investigation by the judicial qualifications commission or
151is otherwise disqualified or unable to serve on the panel, the
152next most senior chief circuit judge or judges shall serve in
153place of such disqualified or disabled chief circuit judge.
154     (f)  SCHEDULE TO SECTION 12.-
155     (1)  Except to the extent inconsistent with the provisions
156of this section, all provisions of law and rules of court in
157force on the effective date of this article shall continue in
158effect until superseded in the manner authorized by the
160     (2)  After this section becomes effective and until adopted
161by rule of the commission consistent with it:
162     a.  The commission shall be divided, as determined by the
163chairperson, into one investigative panel and one hearing panel
164to meet the responsibilities set forth in this section.
165     b.  The investigative panel shall be composed of:
166     1.  Four judges,
167     2.  Two members of the bar of Florida, and
168     3.  Three non-lawyers.
169     c.  The hearing panel shall be composed of:
170     1.  Two judges,
171     2.  Two members of the bar of Florida, and
172     3.  Two non-lawyers.
173     d.  Membership on the panels may rotate in a manner
174determined by the rules of the commission provided that no
175member shall vote as a member of the investigative and hearing
176panel on the same proceeding.
177     e.  The commission shall hire separate staff for each
179     f.  The members of the commission shall serve for staggered
180terms of six years.
181     g.  The terms of office of the present members of the
182judicial qualifications commission shall expire upon the
183effective date of the amendments to this section approved by the
184legislature during the regular session of the legislature in
1851996 and new members shall be appointed to serve the following
186staggered terms:
187     1.  Group I.-The terms of five members, composed of two
188electors as set forth in s. 12(a)(1)c. of Article V, one member
189of the bar of Florida as set forth in s. 12(a)(1)b. of Article
190V, one judge from the district courts of appeal and one circuit
191judge as set forth in s. 12(a)(1)a. of Article V, shall expire
192on December 31, 1998.
193     2.  Group II.-The terms of five members, composed of one
194elector as set forth in s. 12(a)(1)c. of Article V, two members
195of the bar of Florida as set forth in s. 12(a)(1)b. of Article
196V, one circuit judge and one county judge as set forth in s.
19712(a)(1)a. of Article V shall expire on December 31, 2000.
198     3.  Group III.-The terms of five members, composed of two
199electors as set forth in s. 12(a)(1)c. of Article V, one member
200of the bar of Florida as set forth in s. 12(a)(1)b., one judge
201from the district courts of appeal and one county judge as set
202forth in s. 12(a)(1)a. of Article V, shall expire on December
20331, 2002.
204     g.h.  An appointment to fill a vacancy of the commission
205shall be for the remainder of the term.
206     h.i.  Selection of members by district courts of appeal
207judges, circuit judges, and county court judges, shall be by no
208less than a majority of the members voting at the respective
209courts' conferences. Selection of members by the board of
210governors of the bar of Florida shall be by no less than a
211majority of the board.
212     i.j.  The commission shall be entitled to recover the costs
213of investigation and prosecution, in addition to any penalty
214levied by the supreme court.
215     j.k.  The compensation of members and referees shall be the
216travel expenses or transportation and per diem allowance as
217provided by general law.
218     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the following statement be
219placed on the ballot:
223Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to provide that
224all records, materials, and proceedings related to complaints
225and investigations of the Judicial Qualifications Commission not
226otherwise exempt from disclosure shall be public upon the filing
227of formal charges against the judge or upon a determination by
228the commission or investigative panel that formal charges will
229not be filed against the judge.
230     Under current law, records, materials, and proceedings
231related to complaints and investigations of the Judicial
232Qualifications Commission do not become public unless formal
233charges are filed against the judge. This amendment makes most
234records, materials, and proceedings open for public inspection
235and review once the commission makes a determination whether or
236not to file formal charges against the judge. However, general
237public records exemption laws applicable to the judicial branch
238will continue to apply to records of the commission. This
239provision shall apply to all records and materials currently in
240possession of the commission and to all records, materials, and
241proceedings of the commission subsequently created or held.
242     This proposed amendment also removes outdated provisions
243related to the Judicial Qualifications Commission.

CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.