Formed in 1973, the North Carolina Judicial Standards Commission was established to consider complaints against judges of the General Court of Justice, which consists of state district, superior, and appellate court judges and justices and, where appropriate, to make recommendations for discipline. In 2011, the General Assembly added the offices of commissioner and deputy commissioner of the North Carolina Industrial Commission to those offices under the jurisdiction of the North Carolina Judicial Standards Commission.
The Commission is not authorized to consider complaints against administrative law judges, federal judges, magistrates, district attorneys, clerks of court, court employees or personnel, or private attorneys.
The Commission is authorized to receive written complaints from citizens concerned with misconduct or disability of a judge and to investigate those complaints. After a complaint has been investigated and the judge has been given a due process hearing, the Commission may recommend to the Supreme Court of North Carolina that the judge be disciplined.
In addition, upon the Commission's recommendation, the Supreme Court may remove a judge for mental or physical incapacity interfering with the performance of duties when the incapacity is, or is likely to become, permanent.
The thirteen-member Commission is composed of five judges appointed by the Chief Justice: a Court of Appeals judge, two Superior Court judges and two District Court judges. The State Bar Council appoints four attorneys, and four citizen members who are not judges or lawyers are appointed, two by the Governor and two by the General Assembly, one upon recommendation of the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and one upon the recommendation of the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The Court of Appeals judge operates as chair of the Commission and serves at the pleasure of the Chief Justice. Other members serve a six-year term.