Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Reported to Senate without amendment (07/31/2002)

Judicial Improvements Act of 2002 - Amends the Federal judicial code to establish a new chapter regarding complaints against judges and judicial discipline. Authorizes any person alleging that a judge has engaged in specified prejudicial conduct, or is unable to discharge all the duties of office by reason of mental or physical disability, to file with the clerk of the court of appeals for the circuit a written complaint.

Directs the chief judge to expeditiously review complaints. Authorizes: (1) the chief judge to conduct a limited inquiry; and (2) a complainant or judge aggrieved by a final order of the chief judge to petition the judicial council of the circuit for review. Makes denial of a petition for review final.

Requires the chief judge, if not entering such an order, to form a special committee to investigate the allegations. Authorizes the judicial council, upon receipt of a report by the committee, to: (1) conduct any necessary additional investigation; and (2) dismiss the complaint. Directs the council, if the complaint is not dismissed, to take appropriate action to assure the effective and expeditious administration of the business of the courts within the circuit.

Delineates possible actions by the judicial council if the complaint is not dismissed, including: (1) ordering that, on a temporary basis for a time certain, no further cases be assigned to the judge whose conduct is the subject of a complaint; and (2) censuring or reprimanding the judge by means of private communication or public announcement.

Includes among possible actions with respect to: (1) Article III judges, certifying disability of the judge pursuant to specified procedures and standards, and requesting that the judge voluntarily retire, with the provision that length of service requirements not apply; and (2) magistrate judges, directing the chief judge of the district of the magistrate judge to take appropriate action. Sets forth limitations on judicial council removals.

Provides for referral of complaints to the Judicial Conference of the United States. Directs the Judicial Conference, if it finds impeachment warranted, to certify and transmit the determination and record of proceedings to the House of Representatives.

Sets forth provisions regarding: (1) a judicial council's subpoena power; (2) judges' petitions for review of adverse orders and actions; (3) rules for the conduct of proceedings under this Act; (4) restrictions on individuals who are the subject of an investigation; (5) confidentiality of proceedings; and (6) the effect of a felony conviction on a judge's continued service and creditable service.