A sampling of recent judicial ethics advisory opinions

  • A judge who presides in a high-volume court may discuss administrative issues with the attorneys who appear before her in annual or semi-annual meetings; the meetings should not include catered meals paid for by the attorneys, but the judge may host “brown bag luncheons” to which attorneys bring their own meals. New York Opinion 2017-24
  • A judge may attend a private organization’s diversity and racial equality seminar at his own expense. Florida Opinion 2017-10.
  • A judge may sponsor and participate in a public education program about the heroin epidemic, the Good Samaritan Law, and related Maryland law, with some conditions. Maryland Opinion Request 2017-13.
  • A judge may give a presentation on civil enforcement and related matters at a training conference for a sheriff’s association as long as he does not give advice on litigation strategy or comment on pending or impending cases. New York Opinion 2017-81.
  • A judge may speak to an audience of animal control officers about court procedures in dangerous-dog and unlicensed-dog cases, with some conditions. New York Opinion 2017-35.
  • A judge may organize a free community “Law Day” event at the library or historical society where volunteer attorneys would provide free 10-minute private consultations, with some conditions. New York Opinion 2017-30.
  • A judge should not give a baby gift to a lawyer who is appearing in a highly contested case pending before the judge or attend a baby shower given in the lawyer’s honor. Connecticut Informal Opinion 2017-1.
  • A judge may swear in the officers of a chamber of commerce at the organization’s annual installation dinner. Maryland Opinion Request 2017-5.
  • A judge may not allow his home to be part of a tour to raise funds for a charity. Maryland Opinion Request 2017-10.
  • A judge who is a board member of not-for-profit charitable and educational organizations that are not concerned with the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice may attend fund-raisers for the organizations even if a speaker points out the judge’s presence as long as the speaker also points out other prominent persons and identifies them by their honorifics.  Maryland Opinion Request 2017-14.
  • A judge may not participate in a university’s video profile series, published on the school’s web-site and social media channels, even if the videos are used for general campus promotion, but not for fund-raising, when each 2- to 3- minute video features a prominent alumnus discussing how undergraduate education helped him or her identify goals, aspire to a career, and achieve success; includes images of the university’s campus; and ends with the alumnus announcing the “tag line” that he or she “stands with” the school.  Massachusetts Opinion 2017-2.
  • A judge may not be a member of an ecclesiastical court or a hearing officer in a church-related disciplinary hearing. New York Opinion 2017-25
  • A judge may file a pro se answer in a real estate case in which she and her siblings are defendants but may not file an answer on her siblings’ behalf even though their interests are identical to hers. New York Opinion 2017-72.
  • A judge as administrator of a first-degree relative’s estate may act pro se at a closing for the estate’s real property. New York Opinion 2017-82.
  • A judge may serve on the board of directors of a non-profit organization that addresses issues of aging. South Carolina Opinion 6-2017.
  • A judge may not serve on the board of a charter school or of a non-profit organization that operates charter schools. California Formal Opinion 2017-11.
  • A judge may serve on a law section council of a general membership state bar association and participate in discussions and votes concerning proposed legislation. Illinois Opinion 2016-3.
  • A senior judge may be part of a team monitoring the Baltimore police department’s compliance with a consent decree between the U.S. Department of Justice, the mayor and city council, and the police department, with some conditions. Maryland Opinion Request 2017-8.
  • A judge must resign before becoming a candidate in a primary or general election for district attorney. North Carolina Opinion 2017-1.

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