Desert Ridge JP Clancy Jayne to leave post in disgrace

Clancy Jayne

PHOENIX – On Oct. 19, the Disciplinary Counsel of the Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct filed a 74-page amended statement of charges against Desert Ridge Justice of the Peace (JP) Clancy Jayne alleging misconduct in office.

Despite the fact that Jayne lost during the primary election in August and his term will be ending at the end of the year, the investigative panel of the Commission determined there was reasonable cause to commence formal proceedings against Jayne.

Jayne has been publicly censured, and/or reprimanded for misconduct on at least five previous occasions since he began serving as JP in January 2009.

The Commission brought up Jayne’s prior disciplinary history for the purpose of determining the severity of the sanction, a pattern of misconduct or exoneration, as permitted by Commission Rule 22(e).

In 2014, several anonymous complaints alleged Jayne engaged in improper conduct in soliciting sponsors for a radio show and engaging in other self promotional activity.

Although the Commission did not find clear and convincing evidence of ethical misconduct, it approved sending a warning letter to Jayne and authorized it to be public.

In 2014, the Commission issued a private warning letter to Jayne following an investigation into allegations that Jayne improperly provided his personal contact information to jurors and inappropriately solicited ex parte communications from jurors.

The Commission explained to Jayne that his practice of meeting with an empaneled jury privately could give rise to the appearance of impropriety.

Jayne was publicly reprimanded in 2013 after he improperly granted the request of one of his campaign contributors to serve as a representative for a relative during a mediation scheduled before him, even though that individual was not an attorney and was not legally permitted to serve as such in a legal proceeding.

The Commission noted in its findings Jayne had violated various rules of the Code of Judicial Conduct that he had received direct education on that legal issue at least twice and said he should have disqualified himself from making any rulings in the underlying case given his relationship with the party.

Jayne received a private warning in 2012 regarding his improper collection of petition signatures for himself and other candidates during one of his “Breakfast with the Judge” events, stating his conduct potentially violated various rules of ethical conduct if he spoke publicly in support of another political candidate by encouraging people to sign their petitions.

Jayne received a public reprimand and private warning in another case in 2012 for continuing to advertise wedding services on his personal website, despite having been previously disciplined for that conduct, and for improperly listing on his website corporate sponsors, including companies that provided services to the court, and inviting improper ex parte communications.

Jayne was advised that he was a judge at all times and all of his outside activities must comply with the Code of Judicial Conduct.

In 2011, Jayne was publicly reprimanded for engaging in improper ex parte communications with a defendant and improperly handling the matter due to Jayne’s personal or political relationship with the defendant.

While Jayne claimed his communications only pertained to scheduling matters, he failed to disclose them as required and the C noted additional concern due to the personal nature of the communications and the fact that at least one communication occurred through the use of Jayne’s private e-mail address.

A case in 2011 resulted in Jayne receiving a public reprimand, private warning and advisory stemming from an investigation regarding his “Breakfast with the Judge” events, his advertising wedding services, his personal consulting business and a list of “local resources” on his personal website.

The Commission found his Breakfast events were advertised in overtly political contexts and his hosting of political speakers, all of whom were candidates for public office and from the same party, were potentially in violation of the rules.

Jayne was issued an advisory letter recommending the “local resources” on his website not provide links to any major political party so as to avoid the appearance of being subject to political influence.

And because the rules forbid using the prestige of judicial office to advance personal or economic interests, the Commission recommended Jayne remove references to his ongoing work for a private financial services company.

Jayne was also reprimanded for advertising his wedding services, a clear violation of the rules and because Jayne had previously received an advisory letter on the same issue and was advised to discontinue the practice.

In another 2011 case, Jayne received a public reprimand for engaging in numerous ex parte communications with parties on one side of an underlying case, which substantially impacted the case.

Jayne subsequently vacated his ruling and the case was assigned to a new judge.

Because Jayne was new to the bench at the time, the Commission found he had completed all new judge training, including training on the code that specifically related to ex parte communications and therefore warranted a public reprimand.

In 2009, after receiving a complaint that Jayne was advertising wedding services on his website, the Commission issued a private advisory reminding Jayne, who was newly-elected at the time, the code prohibits a judge from advertising his/her ability to perform weddings.

The amended statement of charges cites more problems associated with his “Breakfast with the Judge” events in 2016 and Jayne’s open solicitations for communication on his webpage, by opening the door to solicitations for legal advice and improper ex parte communications, without any disclaimer that he could not do either.

In November 2014, Jayne’s webpage still contained a feature called “Coffee with the Judge” stating, “You could have a nice chat with the judge! … Click below to fill out a form and get started.”

The webpage also had a feature entitled “Ask Clancy Jayne Anything,” and provided a form to fill out.

Jayne’s truck, which he refers to as the “Big Rig” is adorned with a large photo of himself and the messages: “Stop Domestic Violence,” “Distracted Driving is Dangerous,” and “DUI is Dangerous and Illegal.”

In October 2015, Jayne posted a photo of his “Big Rig” on his Facebook page. The photo clearly showed a campaign sign for Rep. Karen Fann, R-Dist. 1, on the roof.

Jayne’s 2016 webpage allowed individuals donating to his campaign to purchase a pink shirt for $70.

The shirt contained a logo of a coyote and moon and was embroidered with the words “Desert Ridge Justice Court.”

Because the shirts did not say “elect” or “vote” for any particular candidate and only bore the name of the court, the Commission concluded the wearer of the shirt could be mistaken for an employee or someone affiliated with the court.

The Commission sent a letter to Jayne in March 2016 asking him to identify the source of funds used to purchase the shirts, whether they were personal, campaign or court funds, and advise the Commission if he believed the production and distribution of the shirts abused the prestige of office to advance his own interests.

On June 10, 2016, Jayne sent the Commission an email claiming the Commission had not complied with its rules pertaining to the initiation of an investigation.

A few days later the Commission advised Jayne it had complied with the rules and provided him with a written statement of the allegations constituting the complaint, giving Jayne notice and opportunity to respond by June 30.

Jayne never responded.

The Commission brought up the issue of Jayne’s use of old campaign signs from a decade ago when he ran for legislative office, which included various endorsements from organizations that endorsed his legislative candidacy.

The Commission received information that most likely none of the endorsements were valid for his 2016 election pointing out the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, specifically, sent Jayne a cease and desist letter to remove their endorsement from all campaign materials.

The balance of the Disciplinary Counsel’s amended statement of charges outlines all the various rules of conduct Jayne has allegedly breached along with exhibits.

The Disciplinary Counsel requested the Commission recommend to the Arizona Supreme Court that Jayne be censured, suspended or removed from judicial office, and that costs and attorney’s fees be assessed against Jayne.

Attorney David P. Brooks filed an 11-page response on Jayne’s behalf on Nov. 2 asserting there is no basis for the Commission to discipline Jayne and requesting the charges, “as framed” be dismissed.