A sampling of recent judicial ethics advisory opinions

  • A court may, with an appropriate disclaimer, allow a non-profit legal aid program to set up a table outside a courtroom to offer financially eligible parties free legal advice, pro se pleadings, and, in some cases, representation. New Mexico Opinion 2017-7.
  • A judge who is a firearm licensing officer must not initiate licensing revocation/suspension proceedings or conduct one without a prosecuting agency. New York Opinion 2017-166.
  • A judge may ask legislators to suggest potential peer mentors to work with veteran-defendants in the veterans treatment court or authorize his resource coordinator or mentor coordinator to make such a request. New York Opinion 2017-123.
  • A judge is not required to disqualify based on credible information that an attorney in a case is “thinking” of running against her and may not ask the attorney directly whether the attorney intends to do so. Florida Opinion 2018-3.
  • A judge may not preside in an application to seal a conviction if he was the district attorney when the defendant was convicted. New York Opinion 2017-162.
  • A county magistrate who has begun dating the county sheriff is disqualified from any matters in which employees of the sheriff appear as witnesses. South Carolina Opinion 2-2018.
  • A judge may serve as master of ceremonies for a close personal friend’s public swearing-in ceremony for a non-judicial office, subject to limitations. New York Opinion 2017-174.
  • A judge may sing the national anthem at a not-for-profit organization’s fund-raiser provided her participation is unannounced and ancillary to the event. New York Opinion 2017-174.
  • A judge may help plan, play in, and invite others to play in a golf tournament to raise funds for an endowed scholarship honoring her late son if her name and title are not used to promote the tournament. Colorado Opinion 2018-1.
  • A judge may permit a legal aid organization to list the judge as a member of the host committee on an invitation to an event to raise funds for a program that trains lawyers for pro bono representation in a specific area of the law. Florida Opinion 2018-5.
  • A judge must not chair a Red Cross blood drive or solicit blood donors. New York Opinion 2018-5.
  • Co-judges may make a charitable contribution to their house of worship by purchasing an advertisement in the weekly bulletin identifying themselves by name and title and signing it “your local magistrates.” New York Opinion 2018-5.
  • A judicial official may not comment on the character of the municipal chief of police for a profile in a local newspaper. Connecticut Informal Opinion 2018-1.
  • A judge may participate as president of an ethnic bar association in a meeting with a district attorney-elect’s transition team on issues involving the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice, subject to conditions and limitations. New York Opinion 2017-179.
  • A judge who serves in criminal court may preside over a mock trial used to educate police officers about court and courtroom procedure but should not critique the performance of members of law enforcement. Florida Opinion 2018-1.
  • A support magistrate and his family may accept donations and services from a not-for-profit organization for their special-needs child, may permit media coverage, and may permit the organization to describe the services on its web-site with family photographs that include the judge, provided he takes reasonable steps to ensure the organization does not exploit his position for fund-raising or promotional purposes. New York Opinion 2017-106.
  • A full-time magistrate judge may accompany her adult child who was the victim of a felony to court appearances in the general sessions court. South Carolina Opinion 1-2018.

 

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