A sampling of recent judicial ethics advisory opinions

  • A judge may observe other judges’ court sessions for educational purposes, informally or as part of a formal court system mentor program.  New York Opinion 2022-28.
  • After a judge admonished an attorney on the record for an inappropriate attempt at humor referencing a client’s ethnicity or national origin, the judge may take further action, but is not required to do so.  New York Opinion 2022-49.
  • A judge may write a law review article reviewing statutory, regulatory, and administrative efforts to address the intersection of domestic violence and child protection in New York and other states if they do not comment on any pending or impending cases.  New York Opinion 2022-41.
  • A judge may permit a law clerk to publish an article in a law journal that argues that the law does not adequately protect employees who are using or have used medical marijuana, but the judge should review the article before it is published to ensure that the clerk’s relationship to the judge, the judge’s court, and the Maryland judiciary is not identified in any way.  Maryland Opinion Request 2022-8.
  • An administrative assistant for a circuit court judge may not work with a state legislator on proposed legislation that would allow a mother to be charged criminally if she uses drugs while pregnant and the baby dies shortly after birth as a result of the drug use.  West Virginia Opinion 2022-15.
  • A judge may co-chair a committee to educate the judiciary on implicit bias through a volunteer court observation project and may meet with other participating judges and committee members to receive feedback from the observers, but may not privately discuss with observers their feedback on the judge’s own court sessions.  New York Opinion 2021-182.
  • Subject to conditions, a judge may attend and watch the Denver PrideFest festival and parade and similar events like Cinco de Mayo, the Marade, and Juneteenth and may march in the Denver PrideFest parade and similar parades with a bar association such as the Colorado LGBT Bar Association.  Colorado Opinion 2022-1.
  • A judge may be a dues-paying member of and serve as an officer or board member of a bar association for lawyers with disabilities but may not participate in its political or campaign efforts or draft amicus briefs for the association.  Colorado Opinion 2022-2.
  • A judge may serve as chair of a bar association subcommittee that seeks to improve racial equity in the court system.  New York Opinion 2022-13.
  • A judge who has volunteered for several years in a non-profit organization’s mentoring program may not provide a testimonial for use in the organization’s marketing materials, including their website, handbook, and social media pages, if there is no limitation on the organization’s use of the testimonial.  New York Opinion 2022-19.
  • Judges who graduated from a university may appear with the university’s retiring president in a photograph published in the university’s newsletter or magazine as long as the judges advise the university not to use the photograph in conjunction with any advertising directed at advancing student enrollment or fundraising.  Maryland Opinion Request 2022-18.
  • A judge is prohibited from serving as a member of the board of directors for the New York Civil Liberties Union.  New York Opinion 2022-22(A).
  • A university may name its Center for Justice and Society after a sitting South Carolina Supreme Court justice, but the justice should not have access to or knowledge of the donors.  The university may contact county bar associations for contributions.  South Carolina Opinion 5-2022.
  • A judge may not advocate with insurance companies on behalf of a family member.  New Hampshire Opinion 2022-1.
  • A judge may continue to serve as one of many class representatives in a federal lawsuit filed before they took the bench.  New York Opinion 2021-188.
  • A judge may not allow their spouse to place a campaign sign for a friend’s city council campaign in the yard of their jointly owned home.  West Virginia Opinion 2022-12.
  • A magistrate may not place a campaign sign in their yard for a family member in their household who is running for office.  West Virginia Opinion 2022-13.
  • To “test the water” about a possible candidacy for a non-judicial municipal office, a judicial official may speak privately, one-one-on with members of a political party’s town committee or other individuals in the community.  Connecticut Informal Opinion 2022-3.

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