Judge Manuel Real Wins Dismissal of Two Misconduct Complaints

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A federal panel has dismissed two misconduct complaints against Judge Manuel Real, putting an end to the Los Angeles judge’s disciplinary troubles.

The Judicial Council of the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit dismissed the complaints after finding that Real’s failure to state the reasons for his rulings was not willful, the Recorder reports.

The dismissal led the Wall Street Journal Law Blog to note Real’s Teflon-like ability to sidestep criticism. The blog says the judge has “taken flack for favoring one side over the other” and “for generally being difficult to deal with.”

The 9th Circuit judicial council acted on remand after the U.S. Judicial Conference instructed it to conduct more fact-finding on the issue of willfulness. The Recorder says the panel members who dismissed the complaints on Friday “did it through clenched teeth.”

The council stressed the need for judges to explain the basis for their decisions. “Judge Real’s acts and omissions have resulted in needless appeals and unnecessary cost to litigants in both money and time, and have tended to undermine the public’s confidence in the judiciary,” the panel said. “The occurrences here are more than anecdotal or occasional.”

Real’s record is not umblemished, however. When the Judicial Council remanded the complaints for failure to state his reasoning, it upheld a public censure against the judge for improperly intervening in a bankruptcy case.

Law professor Arthur Hellman of the University of Pittsburgh told the Recorder that a new issue looms. “The question now, since he has been vindicated to this extent, is, will he take senior [status]?” Hellman said.

The ABA Journal profiled Real in September.

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