2018 WCJ Ethics Committee Finds Four Violations


Sacramento, CA - The Workers’ Compensation Ethics Advisory Committee (EAC ) is a state committee independent of the Division of Workers’ Compensation. The EAC is composed of nine members, each appointed by the DWC administrative director for a term of four years. The EAC meets four times a year.

Anyone may file a complaint with the EAC. Complaints may be submitted anonymously but must be in writing. On receipt of the complaint, the EAC opens a case. Each complaint that alleges misconduct by a judge is formally reviewed by the EAC. To ensure the objectivity of the reviewing members, the names of the complainant, WCALJ, witnesses, and the DWC office where the alleged misconduct occurred are redacted from complaint copies.

In calendar year 2018, the EAC considered and resolved 3 complaints from 2017. Of 29 new complaints received in 2018, the EAC considered 28 and resolved 24. Of the resolved complaints, 4 resulted in findings of judicial misconduct. The Workers’ Compensation Ethics Advisory Committee has now published these investigations in its Annual Report, 2018.

In one of the cases, an applicants’ attorney, complained that despite the fact that applicant had been represented by competent counsel who had already explained the panel process to the applicant, the judge become irate when complainant attempted to walk through a Compromise and Release (C&R) because no panel qualified medical evaluator (QME) waiver had been included with the C&R. When complainant told the judge that that complainant had never before been required to submit such a waiver on a represented case, the judge replied, "You’re full of [expletive]"  When complainant asked the judge not to use expletives, the judge said, "If you don’t like it, file a complaint." The committee identified an ethics violation and recommended to the CJ that appropriate action be taken.

In another case, an unrepresented applicant complained that while arguing a Motion to Recuse the WCJ, the judge replied, "You’re a goddam liar." The complainant then walked out of the courtroom hurt, depressed, scared, and full of anxiety. Based on its review of the investigation, the EAC found that it was a single, technical violation, with no past pattern. Based upon that conclusion, the EAC recommended no further action by the CJ. 

Another complaint from a witness alleged that the judge was clearly angry and spoke to complainant very aggressively and asked complainant to wait for the question to finish; the judge alluded to the fact that complainant had consumed too much caffeine, which complainant denied. Complainant stated that this is an example of improper demeanor for a judge and willful neglect of proper decorum for a judge. The committee found a single technical violation but no past patterns. The EAC acknowledged the challenges presented by a difficult witness. The EAC recommended further appropriate action.

An an unrepresented applicant, complained that the judge was recused from the expedited hearing because the judge had a former business relationship with the agent for the defense. The complainant said that the judge can see who is on the calendar when scheduled and had the responsibility to do something without imposing on complainant to appear for no reason. Complainant argued that this mistake caused delays in the case. The committee found a technical violation for failing to put the disclosure on the record and recommended further action. […]

Source: WorkCompAcademy.com

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