Anyone may file a complaint with the Judicial Qualifications Commission by completing the online complaint form. The complaint, which must be in writing with an original signature, must be received by the Commission staff before any action or investigation may begin. The complaint must state facts that substantiate the alleged misconduct. Upon receipt of a complaint, the Executive Director may authorize a preliminary inquiry. After an analysis, the complaint and additional relevant information are sent to each Commission member to review prior to its monthly meeting. The members will discuss and determine the appropriate action, which may include the following:
- Close the complaint upon initial review because the allegations did not constitute misconduct under the law and standards of judicial misconduct in Georgia.
- Investigate the complaint. This could entail writing to the judge requesting his or her explanation of the matter, reviewing court and non-court documents, interviewing witnesses, monitoring courtrooms, etc.
- Require the judge under investigation to appear before the Commission and respond to questioning.
Depending upon the outcome of the investigation the Commission may take the following action:
- Close the complaint if the allegations are found to be without merit.
- Admonish or reprimand the judge for his misconduct by use of any of the informal sanctions available.
- When the situation warrants, formal proceedings are filed. In such proceedings, the judge has a right to defend against the charges and to be represented by an attorney. If a violation is found, the Commission may recommend to the Supreme Court retirement, censure, suspension or removal from office.