A sampling of recent judicial ethics advisory opinions

  • A judge is not disqualified from matters involving a credit union where she is a member and account holder. New York Opinion 2018-44(A)
  • A judge whose spouse and the construction company he owns are represented by a large law firm is not disqualified from unrelated cases in which that law firm appears. Florida Opinion 2018-22.
  • A judge may preside in a criminal matter involving disruptions at a zoning board by a defendant who has also filed a notice of claim against the town for damages arising from the same incident even though the judge is a resident and taxpayer of the town. New York Opinion 2018-86.
  • A judge may continue to preside in a case after reporting one of the attorneys to a bar association’s lawyer assistance committee. A judge’s disciplinary responsibilities apply to attorney competence as well as misfeasance, malfeasance, and non-feasance.  New York Opinion 2018-58.
  • At the request of a police department’s inspector general, a judge may forward published decisions that appear to involve corrupt or perjured police officers to an appropriate investigative authority, but may decline to do so absent a legal duty. New York Opinion 2018-28.
  • A judge may not participate in a school’s truancy intervention court in his courtroom even if he does not wear a robe and is not the only person making determinations. New Mexico Opinion 2018-5.
  • A judge may write a letter to state agencies with her observations that a state center for the developmentally disabled is no longer suited to house inmates, many of whom are judicially committed for criminal offenses, and requesting action to provide a safer, more secure facility. A judge may inform the legislature of the importance of a center where parents have monitored visitation with their children.  If a judge is concerned that the current law on the apportionment of fault in negligence cases inhibits settlements and increases litigation, the judge may explain to a legislative committee the impact pending legislation on the issue will have on court operations.  A judge may not appear before a legislative committee to support a bill that would increase penalties for domestic violence crimes.  A judge may testify before a county legislative body about the need for indigent legal services in the county.  A judge may make a public service television announcement to encourage people to become foster parents.  California Judges Association Opinion 75 (2018).
  • A judicial official may serve as the president of a local chapter of a college’s alumni association. Connecticut Informal Opinion 2018-15.
  • A judicial official may serve on the board of trustees of a local university. Connecticut Informal Opinion 2018-8.
  • A judge who wrote a book on methods to keep kids out of trouble may speak at a library on the east coast and accept reimbursement for her travel expenses. A judge may attend an economic cooperation and development forum in South Korea but may not accept reimbursement for travel expenses and must attend on his own time.  California Judges Association Opinion 75 (2018).
  • A judge may not publish a scholarly article that is highly critical of the state correctional officers association, the recent administrations in Sacramento, and the “tough on crime” movement. A judge may not sit on an advisory board that distributes grant money to police departments for anti-terror equipment.  California Judges Association Opinion 75 (2018).
  • A newly appointed judge who sits in a misdemeanor calendar may continue to teach a class to at-risk juveniles. California Judges Association Opinion 75 (2018).
  • A judicial official may provide training in collaborative divorce through the Connecticut Council for Non-Adversarial Divorce and receive compensation. Connecticut Informal Opinion 2018-11.
  • A judge may assist a high school team learn the skills necessary to compete in a mock trial competition. New Mexico Opinion 2018-7.
  • A judge may accept a discount to attend a mediation program at Pepperdine University, a discounted membership in California Women Lawyers, and payment of national and local membership dues for the American Board of Trial Advocates offered to all judges by the local chapter. A presiding judge may not authorize a publisher to supply each judge on the court with a free subscription to a local business-type magazine.  California Judges Association Opinion 75 (2018).
  • A judicial official may resell to a commercial ticket reseller or to friends sporting event tickets for more than what he paid, subject to conditions. Connecticut Informal Opinion 2018-9.
  • A judicial official who holds a real estate broker’s license may not receive referral fees consistent with the real estate industry practice even if she connects buyers and sellers. Connecticut Informal Opinion 2018-13.
  • If a municipal parade is a ceremonial community event, not a fund-raiser or a political event, a judicial official may march in the parade with other former municipal officials if her name is not used in connection with soliciting sponsors, if she does not permit any banner or sign displaying her name and office to appear on floats or vehicles promoting political parties or candidates, and if she does not appear with political candidates in the parade or on their floats/vehicles. Connecticut Informal Opinion 2018-12.
  • A judicial candidate may use or re-publish a news report on his opponent’s inappropriate relationship with a legal client, which the opponent has reportedly confirmed. Florida Opinion 2018-12.

 

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