A sampling of recent judicial ethics advisory opinions

  • A court may participate in a not-for-profit organization’s program that, following finalization of an adoption, provides a personalized backpack with the organization’s name and logo to adoptees and a tote bag with its name and logo to adoptive parents. New York Opinion 2022-175.
  • A judge may not sign a letter soliciting local businesses to donate items for use as program rewards and incentives for participants in a specialized docket court and may not direct a court employee to do so. Ohio Opinion 2023-1.
  • A judge who issued a bench warrant for failure to appear is not disqualified from the underlying matter or a separate, subsequent matter in which the defendant is charged with failure to appear. A judge who accepted a plea agreement is not disqualified from a subsequent case in which the crime that was the subject of the agreement is alleged as a prior strike, which the defendant intends to challenge. California Formal Opinion 2023-21.
  • A judge who filed an insurance claim following Hurricane Michael should disclose the claim to all parties or their attorneys with hurricane-related insurance claims in their division and recuse themselves from any cases involving the same insurance company. Florida Opinion 2023-1.
  • If a former magistrate appears in a case, other magistrates are not required to disqualify themselves, but a magistrate should disclose if they have a close friendship with the former magistrate. Florida Opinion 2023-2.
  • An appellate judge who successfully sought to vacate a vexatious lien filed by a disgruntled litigant against their property may preside over appeals from other decisions or orders by the judge who granted their petition. New York Opinion 2022-173.
  • A judicial officer may not permit a court employee to manage the city’s jail alternative programs but may allow a court employee to oversee management of courthouse security. Washington Opinion 2023-1.
  • A judge who serves as a mentor at a law school may not write a letter of recommendation in support of a mentee student’s application for permanent residence in the U.S. unless the request comes directly from the government agency. New York Opinion 2022-178.
  • A judge may not provide a recommendation in support of an individual nominated by the governor to be secretary of an executive branch agency. Maryland Opinion Request 2023-5.
  • A judge may speak without compensation on aspects of the judge’s life and career related to diversity and inclusion at a for-profit company’s employee-only event in recognition of Black History Month and International Women’s Day if the company’s interests are unlikely to come before the judge and the judge’s name and image would not be used for commercial purposes. New York Opinion 2022-158.
  • A judge may participate, without compensation, in an interview for a documentary about the life and career of a now-deceased judge who was their mentor. New York Opinion 2022-159.
  • A judge may sell copies of a bench book they independently wrote and published to the supervising judge of another court in the court system for distribution to judges in that court. New York Opinion 2022-163.
  • A judicial official may prepare a video testimonial for a personal friend and a former elected executive branch official who is receiving the 2023 Distinguished Public Service Award from the Connecticut Bar Association that will be shown at its “Celebrate with the Stars” annual fund-raising event if their remarks will focus on the recipient as a person and advocate for non-partisan civics education and engagement, rather than on legislative achievements; if they do not participate in fund-raising except as permitted; if their presence and role in the presentation are not advertised prior to the event, although their name, title, and biography may be included in materials distributed at the event; and if their testimonial is not made publicly available on the bar association’s YouTube channel or any other online media after the event. Connecticut Informal Opinion 2023-1.
  • A judge may purchase a sponsor-level ticket to a bar association’s fund-raising dinner and be listed as a “sponsor” of the event. New York Opinion 2022-161.
  • A judge in their capacity as a past president of the Oklahoma Bar Association may serve on a short­term search committee for a new executive director of the Association. Oklahoma Opinion 2022-1.
  • A judge may not serve on the U.S. Court of Military Commission Review. Virginia Opinion 2022-2.
  • A judge may serve on a scholarship committee through the local library. West Virginia Opinion 2023-2.
  • A judge who has authorized or knowingly permitted their name to appear on a publicly circulated nominating petition as a candidate for nonjudicial office must resign from judicial office. New York Opinion 2022-176.

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