Federal judges agreed Tuesday to grant the public more access to cases in which judges are disciplined by their colleagues.
Final orders on complaints about judges will be posted on appeals court Web sites and, in most cases, judges will be named if they have been sanctioned.
The changes were adopted by the Judicial Conference of the United States, a 27-judge body led by Chief Justice John Roberts that met Tuesday at the Supreme Court. The new rules take effect in 30 days.
Only a handful of the complaints that are filed annually against federal judges advance beyond a preliminary review. Five of the 841 complaints filed in the government spending year that ended Sept. 30 resulted in the formation of special investigative committees of judges to look into allegations against a colleague.
In one recent case, judges from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans said there was evidence to support impeachment of U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Porteous Jr. for misconduct, including lying in bankruptcy court and accepting gifts from lawyers with cases before him.
The Judicial Conference will decide by September whether to recommend that the House consider impeaching Porteous, said Chief Judge Thomas Hogan of U.S. District Court in Washington, the chairman of the conference's executive committee.
The increased attention to allegations of improprieties by judges grew out of a report released in 2006 by a committee headed by Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. The report found problems in the way judges have handled high-profile complaints against their colleagues.
On a separate matter, Hogan said judges oppose legislation that would tie a pay raise to a ban on most paid seminars for judges. Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., attached the travel restrictions to the pay raise bill that passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in January.
"The way it's written is far too broad," said Hogan, noting that one commentator has remarked that under the proposal, "the Supreme Court could travel to Europe but not come back."