Judicial Conduct Reporter

The summer issue of the Judicial Conduct Reporter has now been posted on-line for download.  You can sign up to receive e-mail notice when the Judicial Conduct Reporter is published and for other e-newsletters from the National Center for State Courts here.

The issue has summaries of recent advisory opinions and several recent cases in which judges were disciplined for receiving a discounted carpool parking rate even though he did not carpool, holding a marathon court session (in addition to other misconduct), improper practices regarding appointed counsel and other matters in criminal cases, or making offensive and demeaning comments to female attorneys and staff members (in addition to other misconduct).

The issue also has the first of a 2-part article entitled “Before and after the bench.”  The part in the summer issue addresses whether a judicial conduct commission has jurisdiction to investigate allegations that a judge committed misconduct before becoming a judge or whether the attorney regulatory agency retains disciplinary authority after an attorney becomes a judge, including a discussion of cases in which judges have been disciplined for pre-bench conduct.  The second part, to be published in the fall issue, will address whether a former judge can be disciplined as an attorney for misconduct while he or she was a judge.

Finally, an article entitled “Defining family” discusses the different levels of family relationships defined in the code of judicial conduct and the different ethical obligations for each group.

In researching the family article, a 1-letter typographical error was discovered in previous written and on-line versions of the American Bar Association Model Code of Judicial Conduct and some state codes.  As a result of that error, Rule 2.11(A)(3) stated that a judge is disqualified when the judge or one of the specified family members “has an economic interest in the subject matter in controversy or is a party to the proceeding” (emphasis added).  But it should have been “in,” rather than “is” and state “has an economic interest in the subject matter in controversy or in a party to the proceeding.”  “In a party” was the rule in the 1990 model code, and the “is a party” situation is already covered by Rule 2.11(A)(2)(a).  The error was corrected when the 2007 model code was up-dated and re-printed in 2011 and is now correct in the on-line version.  In the meantime, however, in adopting a new code after reviewing the 2007 model, a few states copied the error and adopted “is a party.”  States should double-check their codes to make sure Rule 2.11(A)(3) says what they meant.

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