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The Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) has posted the 2012 Ethics Advisory Committee’s annual report on its Web site. The Workers’ Compensation Ethics Advisory Committee is a state committee, independent from the DWC, charged with reviewing and monitoring complaints of misconduct filed against workers ’ compensation administrative law judges. The nine-member Ethics Advisory Committee is required to make a public report each year summarizing activities in the previous calendar year.

As civil servants, the WCALJs are not subject to review by the California Commission on Judicial Performance, the agency which is responsible for investigating misconduct complaints directed at judges serving on the Supreme, Superior and Appellate courts. The EAC’s authority and duties are set forth in the California Code of Regulations, title 8, sections 9722 through 9723.

The EAC meets at regular intervals to review complaints of judicial misconduct and to make recommendations to the Chief Judge and the Administrative Director of the DWC if a complaint warrants a formal investigation by the Administrative Director’s staff. Pursuant to California Code of Regulations, title 8, section 9722, the Ethics Advisory Committee is composed of nine members, each appointed by the Division of Workers’ Compensation’s Administrative Director for a term of four years. The EAC’s composition reflects the constituencies within the California workers’ compensation community, and is composed of a member of the public representing organized labor; A member of the public representing insurers; A member of the public representing self-insured employers; An attorney who formerly practiced before the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board and who usually represented insurers or employers; An attorney who formerly practiced before the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board and who usually represented applicants (injured workers); A presiding judge; A judge or retired judge, and, two members of the public outside the workers’ compensation community.

The EAC meets four times each year at the DWC Headquarters located at 1515 Clay Street, in Oakland, California. Although EAC meetings are open to the public, the Committee meets in executive session when it engages in the review and discussion of actual complaints, and that portion of the proceedings is closed to the public.

In 2012, the DWC had authority over 168 active judges. The EAC received 19 new complaints in the calendar year of 2012, 6 complaints resulted in investigations. The complaints set forth a wide variety of grievances. Three complaints were filed by employees represented by attorneys. Nine by non represented attorneys. One by a defense attorney. And one each by a hearing rep, lien claimant, and an attorney representing a lien claimant.

The Ethics Advisory Committee identified no judicial misconduct in 15 complaints, and did not recommended further action by the Chief Judge or the Administrative Director on any complaints. Three complaints presently remain pending and under investigation from complaints filed in 2012.