Confidentiality In Judicial Discipline Investigations In Florida

In In re Graziano, 696 So. 2d 744 (Fla. 1997), the Supreme Court of Florida explained that confidentiality allows the Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC) to efficiently process complaints from any and all sources while protecting the complainant from recriminations and the judicial officer from unsubstantiated charges. See id. (citing Forbes v. Earle, 298 So. 2d 1, 4 (Fla. 1974)). In Forbes, the court clarified the justification for confidentiality in judicial discipline investigations: The need and reason for confidentiality is set forth by the American Bar Association Commission on Standards of Judicial Administration which recommends: Except in the most extreme situations, the requirements of verification and disclosure of identity stifle complaints and thereby frustrate the objective of securing public confidence in the courts' willingness to police themselves. The provision that investigations be confidential has proven to be abundant safeguard for the judge who has been unfairly accused. Forbes, 298 So. 2d at 4. The confidentiality of the 6(b) hearings is thus aimed at protecting judges from unsubstantiated claims, not meritorious claims that advance to a hearing panel. See id.