“The complaint will be dismissed on the ground that the alleged conduct ‘is not prejudicial to the effective and expeditious administration of the business of the courts,” Srinivasan wrote in a four-page memo that quotes extensively from the Nov. 5 advisory opinion of the Committee on Codes of Conduct.
The formal complaint against Sullivan was filed as part of an unusual year-long effort by a fellow judge, Laurence H. Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Silberman accused Sullivan of unethical conduct for sitting on the nominating commission, which he said “exercises enormous political power.”
Silberman, a nominee of President Ronald Reagan, said in his complaint that the process of selecting judges is inherently political and should not involve members of the federal bench.
In response to Silberman’s accusations, Sullivan asked for guidance from the conduct committee. A large majority of the 15-member committee found no problem with Sullivan using his “expertise to evaluate and recommend candidates for judicial office” on D.C.’s trial and appellate courts.
When vacancies arise on those courts, the commission recommends a slate of three candidates to the president. By law, the commission must include a current or retired District Court judge among its members.
Sullivan, a nominee of President Bill Clinton, previously served as a judge on both the D.C. Superior Court and D.C. Court of Appeals. He has served on the local board for more than two decades.
Srinivasan’s order Thursday doesn’t mean the saga is over. After the committee issued its opinion, Silberman submitted a subsequent letter to the D.C. Circuit’s Judicial Council in which he said he would have a basis to appeal if Srinivasan dismissed his complaint.
Silberman did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday. Sullivan declined to comment.