A sampling of recent judicial ethics advisory opinions

  • A judge may ask state legislators for financial support for a problem-solving court that will address mental health issues. New York Opinion 2018-8.
  • A judge may not serve on a bail reform committee when membership will consist exclusively of defense representatives and community members and the organizers have declined to invite any prosecutorial, police, or law enforcement agency representatives. New York Opinion 2018-15.
  • The Judicial Assistants Association of Florida may request and/or accept donations from attorneys, law firms, businesses, and bar associations to offset the costs of its annual educational conferences as long as all fund-raising is conducted in the name of the organization without any reference in advertising, promotion, or solicitation to any particular judicial assistant’s judge or office. Florida Advisory Opinion 2018-8.
  • If a matter was initiated after a new judge left a law firm, whether the judge must disqualify from cases in which members of his former firm appear depends on how long it has been since he left the firm, whether he has maintained a close relationship with the remaining members, whether he has any business interests with members of the firm, and whether he is still receiving money from the firm. South Carolina Opinion 6-2018.
  • A judge may testify at a bar disciplinary proceeding concerning his personal knowledge of a lawyer’s character if he is formally subpoenaed. Wyoming Opinion 2018-1.
  • A judge may participate in a recorded interview with the not-for-profit educational institute that she attended if she is not being singled out based on her judicial position and non-judge graduates will be included; the judge should instruct the school that her interview may not be used for any fund-raising activity. Arizona Opinion 2018-1.  
  • Assuming it is lawful, a judge may coordinate a raffle at a magistrates’ association training program to raise money from other judges over whom he has no supervisory authority to purchase commemorative plaques for display at court facilities. New York Opinion 2018-53.
  • A judicial officer may serve on the board of the Girl Scouts of Connecticut. Connecticut Informal Opinion 2018-5.  
  • A district court commissioner may not engage in a rideshare business as an independent contractor driver for Uber, Lyft, Sidecar, or similar companies. Maryland Opinion Request 2018-3.  
  • During personal time and using personal resources, a new judge may respond to questions from successor counsel in a case regarding historical facts not readily apparent from the file and similar matters of clarification but may not answer questions about legal advice or litigation strategy. Massachusetts Letter Opinion 2018-2.
  • A new judge may voluntarily provide a factual statement or affidavit about his former service as guardian ad litem in a federal case, respond to the presiding judge’s questions about whether a new guardian ad litem should be appointed, and appear pro se concerning his fees for work previously performed. New York Opinion 2018-22.
  • A judge may serve as the administrator for her deceased uncle’s estate and as the conservator for her elderly aunt and accept the statutorily mandated fees when she had or has a close familial relationship with them, she is the only blood relation who could hold the position, and she does not preside in the county where they reside. West Virginia Opinion 2017-24.  
  • When a judicial official’s spouse is running for office, the spouse/candidate may use a family picture that includes the judicial official in her campaign material provided that no reference is made to his judicial title or position, he does not appear in a judicial robe or setting, no explicit endorsement is featured, and he ensures that the photograph is not used in a way that violates the code of judicial conduct; the judicial official should not appear in any non-family group photo in the spouse’s campaign literature. Connecticut Informal Opinion 2018-6. 
  • A judge may sign a prospective candidate’s nominating petitions but may not circulate them. Illinois Opinion 2018-1.  

 

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