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The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has joined two other circuits now providing Internet access to its judicial discipline orders. The four orders posted in early March by the 10th Circuit did not identify any of the judicial officials by name and all involved routine dismissal of the complaints as either outside the scope of misconduct because they related to the merits of a particular case or frivolous claims that did not provide specific evidence to back up the assertions. Five years ago the Judicial Conference of the United States, the policymaking arm of the judiciary, recommended that the 13 federal circuits post final discipline orders online, and that was reinforced in 2006 by a report of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer’s Committee on implementation of the 1980 judicial discipline law. But so far only the 7th Circuit, beginning in early 2007, and the 9th Circuit, starting in January, have initiated online posting of judicial discipline decisions. The lack of ready access to discipline rulings has been the source of criticism from academics and lawyers practicing in federal courts. [See related article, " Judging federal judges."] The 10th Circuit cases included two complaints against magistrate judges, one against a federal judge and one against a three-judge panel of the circuit court. None of the complaints identified a specific judge. One complaint accused a magistrate judge of coercing a settlement and calling the complainant a “liar” during settlement discussions. The claim was dismissed, pointing out a magistrate’s job is to attempt to reach settlements and advise both sides of the strength of weakness of a case. Citing the Breyer report, circuit Chief Judge Robert Henry noted that it is not always clear “what degree of alleged discourtesy transcends the expected rough-and-tumble of litigation�” Another complaint accused a magistrate of being “susceptible to bribery” based on alleged phone calls by an unidentified person seeking a “contribution” to the judge. But without identifying information that would allow further inquiry, Henry concluded the claim was frivolous. Neither Henry nor Circuit Executive David Tigh were immediately available for comment.

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