A sampling of recent judicial ethics advisory opinions

  • Justice court web-sites may not include extensive information promoting a district attorney’s traffic diversion program but may include a link to the DA’s web-site as a convenience to defendant motorists. New York Opinion 2018-101.
  • A court may create and distribute a list of attorneys on the assigned counsel panel who are willing to represent litigants on a sliding fee scale if the list includes a disclaimer that the court and its staff are not recommending any particular attorney. New York Opinion 2018-114.
  • A magistrate may not hire as constable the son of another magistrate from the same county. South Carolina Opinion 13-2018.
  • 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 circuit court judge may date a non-lawyer employee of the solicitor’s office whose duties are primarily scheduling and computer management but should disclose the relationship in cases for which the employee is responsible and reassess the relationship if disclosure results in frequent disqualifications.  South Carolina Opinion 14-2018.
  • A judge may research, write, and appear in televised public service announcements that discuss issues surrounding family violence. Florida Opinion 2018-23.
  • 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.
  • Judge members of a supreme court committee may not solicit funds from the state bar, voluntary bar associations, private for-profit and not-for-profit corporations, law firms, lawyers, and others to defray the cost of hosting the annual conference of the National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts. Florida Opinion 2018-25.
  • A judge may not speak about gun laws at a politically sponsored gun policy forum. New York Opinion 2018-72.
  • A judge may accept an invitation from the U.S. State Department, on behalf of an overseas embassy, to participate in a program to promote the integration of women in a certain religious group in the host country and to promote gender-equality and women’s rights. New York Opinion 2018-107.
  • A city court judge may attend the mayor’s free anti-violence event for youth as an audience member with no speaking role. New York Opinion 2018-110.
  • A judge may attend and participate in an out-of-state conference of tribal judges in connection with her performance of her official duties for the state court system and allow one of the tribal courts to underwrite her travel, lodging, and registration fees. New York Opinion 2018-127.
  • When a town judge’s caseload includes cases involving the casino in his town, the judge may accept routine perks from the casino, such as “free play and food comps,” that he knows are offered to all similarly situated patrons and the casino is not presently participating in a hearing or trial before him but must not accept the casino’s invitation to lavish, expensive, or exclusive events. New York Opinion 2018-65
  • A judge who developed a bar exam study aid and makes it available on an on-line app store may associate her name with the app; mention her judicial status in an on-line bio; speak with law school administrators and students about their interest in obtaining the app; and accept income from on-line sales of the app, subject to reporting requirements. New York Opinion 2018-93.
  • A judge who appoints CASA to provide information on pending cases may not serve as a member of CASA’s advisory board. New York Opinion 2018-100.
  • A judge may provide informal, uncompensated legal advice to adult relatives involved in pending or impending civil or criminal proceedings but may not participate in discussions or attend meetings with their retained counsel. New York Opinion 2018-120
  • A judge may provide an affidavit attesting to the bona fide good faith marriage of a friend to her immigrant spouse who is seeking permanent residency when the judge has personal knowledge of their marriage’s legitimacy, has known the friend for over 3 decades, attended their wedding, and has maintained the friendship since. New York Opinion 2018-128.
  • A judge may not at the request of a long-time friend charged with a federal crime or his counsel submit a character reference letter but may respond to an official request to provide a character reference if asked directly by the tribunal, hearing officer, or other governing body or official. New York Opinion 2018-135.
  • A judge may allow his property to be featured in a tour of homes that is a fund-raiser for the symphony guild provided that his title is not used in any materials publicizing the event. South Carolina Opinion 12-2018.
  • As long as federal law criminalizes marijuana use, judges who choose to use marijuana violate the code of judicial conduct. Alaska Opinion 2018-1.
  • A judicial candidate may accept support or endorsement from former judicial candidates the inquiring candidate defeated in the primary election and may advertise their endorsements. Florida Opinion 2018-24.

 

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