A judge may consult about adjudicative responsibilities with another judge, individually or on a listserv, as long as he does not receive factual information that is not part of the record and makes an independent decision in the matter. Michigan Opinion JI-149(2020).
As long as the judge does not discuss any pending or impending cases, a judge presiding over a dependency/delinquency docket may meet with attorneys working for Children’s Legal Services, without other stakeholders, to discuss docket management, scheduling issues, and expectations for motion practice, but it would be prudent for the judge to invite all stakeholders to the meeting. Florida Opinion 2020-5.
A judge is not disqualified from cases involving the city prosecutor even though their children are schoolmates and friends outside of school when she and the prosecutor have no interaction other than scheduling visits for their children to see each other. New York Opinion 2019-161.
While a lawsuit challenging the legitimacy of such arrests in New York’s courthouses is pending or impending, a town justice must not lobby the town board to adopt a policy prohibiting civil immigration arrests in the town court. New York Opinion 2019-135.
Judges may attend school programs to generally educate parents and students about truancy-related issues and court processes. Judges should not participate as volunteer “judges” in school-sponsored truancy intervention programs in which the judge engages directly with specific at-risk families or appears to “preside” over dockets. Judges may not be members of a “truancy team” to assist a particular family or review the details of truancy issues in specific cases. North Carolina Opinion 2020-1.
A judge may attend an event honoring black female judges if the event is not also a fund-raiser. Florida Opinion 2020-4.
Judges must not publish their own charitable contributions on social media. Judges may support charitable organizations on social media. A judge who is on a charitable organization’s boards of directors may permit his position to be listed on the organization’s websites and social media. If a judge has reservations about being associated with any charitable organization, the judge should avoid the association, including through social media and other digital media used by the organization. Michigan Advisory Opinion JI-148 (2029).
A judge may not participate in a conference call organized by a federal legislator to plan an event on Capitol Hill in which individuals of a particular ethnic/cultural heritage gather and attend workshops on issues such as immigration, education, the workforce, the U.S. economy, and trade. New York Opinion 2019-138.
A judge may personally appeal the denial of claims for health insurance coverage for her dependent child and may seek reversal of charges imposed by the child’s college. New York Opinion 2020-18.
A court attorney-referee may participate in a census education drive organized by his fraternity/sorority, provided his participation is strictly neutral, non-partisan, and informational. New York Opinion 2019-149.
A judge may not serve on the executive committee of a regional Boy Scouts Council when several cases have been filed against the organization under the Child Victims Act and a member of the executive committee was recently charged with sexual abuse of children. New York Opinion 2020-3.
A judge may serve as a board member on a local council of the Boy Scouts of America, but must resign if the council becomes involved in litigation. A judge may mentor high school students through a program organized by a not-for-profit. A judge may not serve on the board of a network of not-for-profit agencies when some of those agencies engage in advocacy, accept court referrals, or are eligible for appointments in the judge’s court. New York Opinion 2020-55.
A judge may make a private monetary donation to a non-judicial candidate’s campaign even though the candidate must publish a public financial report of donations. Michigan Opinion JI-145(2020).
Judicial officers and judicial candidates may advertise their campaigns on personal or professional social media accounts but may not use those accounts to solicit or accept campaign contributions. A judicial candidate’s campaign committee may solicit contributions through social media platforms. Michigan Opinion JI-147 (2019).
A judge may not step down from the bench and shake a criminal defendant’s hand in front of potential jurors to emphasize that the defendant is presumed not guilty before trial. Utah Informal Opinion 2019-3.
A judge may not facilitate a traffic ticket plea reduction program instituted by the district attorney’s office that would interfere with the court’s exercise of judicial review and discretion. New York Opinion 2019-145.
A new judge is required to disqualify from cases involving an attorney who is a former employee, protégé, and intern and was manager for her election campaign. Washington Opinion 2020-3.
A town justice may not write the town board expressing her personal view that a new local law was poorly drafted and offering proposed amendments. New York Opinion 2019-137.
A judge may participate in a panel discussion on human trafficking at an event sponsored by a non-profit organization that is not a fund-raiser. Florida Opinion 2020-3.
A judge may not accept an invitation to speak to law enforcement officials about honesty and integrity in investigations and testimony. Utah Informal Opinion 2019-2.
A judge may not give a media interview about a rule to show cause he issued against a state agency that has a significant case backlog. West Virginia Opinion 2019-16.
A judge may participate in an academic study on judicial diversity in state courts but must abide by generally applicable limitations on speech and conduct. New York Opinion 2019-115.
A judge may solicit other judges in her district for a “Wellness Fund” to be used by the local Wellness Committee to fund social events for judges and employees to promote workplace collegiality and a positive work environment if she and other judges on the committee do not have any supervisory or appellate authority over the solicited judges. New York Opinion 2019-108.
A judge may publish her dissertation for her doctoral degree in judicial studies as a book and receive compensation for sales of the book. Florida Opinion 2020-1.
A judge should not attend an event that will honor individuals who support the mission of a civic organization “by making positive changes in the lives of abused, neglected and disadvantaged youth in or aging out of foster care” when the price of the tickets and availability of advertisement space indicate that the event has a fund-raising component. Florida Opinion 2020-2.
With conditions, a judge may serve as the chair of a strategic planning committee for the private not-for-profit school that his children attend. New York Opinion 2019-86.
A judge may serve on the board of the Colorado Women’s Leadership Foundation, which encourages corporations and non-profit organizations to fill board positions with qualified women. Colorado Opinion 2020-1.
A judge may not serve as a board member or non-legal advisor of a non-profit organization that receives court appointments and provides guardianship services and attorney representation. New York Opinion 2019-122.
A judge may serve on the board of a non-profit entity that provides occupational therapy activities such as art classes and workshops to the disabled if it does not receive referrals from the judge’s court or regularly engage in litigation in any court. New York Opinion 2019-131.
A new judge may continue to serve as president of the board of a non-profit organization he established while a lawyer but cannot be the signatory for any legal documents such as contracts and rental agreements, cannot be on the checking account, cannot engage in any negotiation with prospective renters/leaseholders of the organization’s building, cannot fund-raise for the organization, and cannot be involved in any press events publicizing donations. West Virginia Opinion 2019-12.
A judge may serve as president of a bar foundation that focuses on the management and distribution of grants for local legal services programs. New York Opinion 2019-141.
A judge may serve as an ex officio member of a charitable organization’s advisory group about funding criminal justice reform initiatives in the state. West Virginia Opinion 2019-27.
A judge may not serve as an advisor to the U.S. President on disability programs and services or on an advisory committee to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A judge may, subject to certain limitations, meet with federal executive branch officials on her own behalf to discuss her experiences as a disabled individual. New York Opinion 2019-146.
Court webpages may list the names of the judges authorized to perform wedding ceremonies and their phone number but should inform the public that judges may be available to perform wedding ceremonies during court hours when there is no fee and should not highlight special services that individual judges may provide (for example, wedding ceremonies in languages other than English or availability to “officiate LGBTQ weddings”). A judge should not maintain a webpage that would allow the public to schedule wedding ceremonies with just that judge for a fee outside of court hours. Judges may wear their robes on their court’s wedding webpage, but a judge may not wear a robe on a webpage not affiliated with the court that promotes her availability to perform weddings for a fee. Washington Opinion 2020-1.
A judge may not retain an ownership interest in property with his former law partners when the firm and other law firms are tenants on the property. Maryland Opinion Request 2019-35.
A judge may make the political party declaration required by statute to vote in the presidential primary. Washington Opinion 2020-4.
A judge whose wife is running for governor may attend fund-raisers on her behalf outside the marital home, but may not appear in a parade with her or introduce her or speak about her at campaign events; the judge’s name and photograph may appear in his wife’s campaign literature or other campaign photograph as long as he is not identified a judge. West Virginia Opinion 2019-22.
A judicial candidate may not characterize an opponent’s prior removal from the ballot when his petitions were invalidated as an inability to “follow the law” and/or a “flagrant disregard for the law” or ask voters to imagine several “disastrous outcomes in serious matters” if the opponent were elected and then “failed to follow the law.” New York Opinion 2019-112.
A judge may participate in a study on judicial diversity in state courts but should not answer questions that could be perceived to suggest a predisposition to decide matters in a certain way regardless whether a case is pending or impending in any court. Maryland Opinion Request 2019-27.
A judge and a judicial association may publicly support or oppose proposed legislative or constitutional changes to court structure, court operations, or the terms or conditions of judicial service by writing and submitting letters, articles, or editorials to newspapers and other publications; advocating in person or in writing to public officials, governmental bodies, and labor unions; testifying at public hearings; and speaking at public or private forums, other than partisan political gatherings or meetings of a political party or committee. A judge and a judicial association should use discretion when expressing a position on social media. New York Opinion 2019-120.
A judge may speak about her judicial experiences at a federal legislator’s non-partisan, non-political youth cabinet meeting. New York Opinion 2019-100.
A judicial official may not play a fictional judge in a scripted docudrama that raises controversial political and societal issues, such as reparations, police brutality, and the killing of innocent blacks. Connecticut Informal Opinion 2019-3.
A judicial official may join a local bar association as a dues-paying member but should regularly re-examine the association’s activities and rules and should carefully consider whether identification with or involvement in specific programs or activities may undermine confidence in his independence, integrity, and impartiality or result in frequent disqualification. Connecticut Informal Opinion 2019-4.
A judge may serve as a member of the House of Deputies at the general convention of the Episcopal Church. Florida Opinion 2019-31.
A judge may serve on the board of a not-for-profit organization that advocates for effective policies and evidence-based solutions for the health, education, and success of children who are vulnerable because of poverty, racism, health disparities, and trauma. New York Opinion 2019-105
A judge may not write or join an article or editorial on issues of substantial public controversy involving American foreign policy and military operations. New York Opinion 2019-106.
A chief judge of a circuit, a criminal division administrative judge, or a criminal division judge may contact the elected state attorney, public defender, or their designated supervisory level attorneys to discuss the judge’s concerns about the conduct of attorneys in their offices that adversely impacts the administration of justice. Florida Opinion 2019-23.
A judge is not required to automatically disqualify himself from cases involving an insurance company that amicably settled a claim made by the judge. Florida Opinion 2019-24.
Judges need not disqualify themselves if a lawyer or party is an acquaintance or disclose an acquaintanceship to the other lawyers or parties. Whether judges must disqualify themselves or disclose when a party or lawyer is a friend or has a close personal relationship with the judge depends on the circumstances. ABA Formal Opinion 488 (2019).
A judge may discuss a court-based mental health diversion project on a video that will be used exclusively on a behavioral health entity’s web-site and social media platform to educate the community about the program if the judge does not promote the entity. Florida Opinion 2019-26.
A chief judge may appear before volunteer bar associations to explain a service that refers military veterans to attorneys for pro bono representation and solicit attorneys to volunteer for the service. Florida Opinion 2019-27.
A judge may apply for loan forgiveness under a U.S. Department of Education’s Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program and is not required to report any discharged debt. Colorado Opinion 2019-3.
A judge must sell an interest in an out-of-state law firm upon election or appointment to the bench. Florida Opinion 2019-28.
A judge may participate in a continuing legal education seminar presented by a local bar association for which a fee is charged and that may result in a profit for the bar association. Virginia Opinion 2019-3.
With conditions, a judicial official may serve on the board or committees of a community organization that provides research and funding to improve the lives of a specific gender. Connecticut Informal Opinion 2019-1.
A judge may not accept an honorary membership in the National Black Prosecutors’ Association. Florida Opinion 2019-29.
A judicial official may not receive a clergyperson of the year award at a gala event sponsored by a religious organization if there will be a silent auction to raise funds before the event even if there will be no fund-raising appeal at the event and the cost to attend only covers the cost of the food and other event expenses. Connecticut Informal Opinion 2019-2.
A judge may not publish an on-line review of a personal or professional vacation organized by a bar association or other professional organization even if the review is anonymous and does not refer to her judicial status. New York Opinion 2019-87.
A judge may not write a letter in support of a clemency application at the request of the inmate or his attorney, but the inmate may list the judge as a reference. New York Opinion 2019-95.
A judge may not communicate ex parte with a county attorney about an arrestee’s criminal record for the purpose of setting an appearance bond when the courts are closed over the weekend and holidays. Nebraska Opinion 2019-1.
A judge is not disqualified from a criminal matter because the defendant, a self-identified sovereign citizen, is attempting to file a fraudulent lien against her and has threatened to accuse her of treason if she does not protect what the defendant perceives as his rights. New York Opinion 2019-81.
A judge is not disqualified from a criminal trial in which the state’s witness was the petitioner and the defendant was the respondent in a prior protective order proceeding over which the judge presided. Maryland Opinion Request 2019-22.
A judge may wear a judicial robe while attending a retirement ceremony for another judge held in a courtroom. Virginia Opinion 2019-2.
A town court justice may not meet privately with the town comptroller and town board members to explain an apparent decrease in revenue generated by the court but may explain the amount of fines and fees collected and the court’s budgetary needs at a board meeting or public forum. New York Opinion 2019-63.
An appellate judge with administrative or supervisory responsibilities who concludes that a trial court judge contacted the judges participating in an appeal to attempt to influence the outcome of the case must ensure that the incident is reported to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct and must direct that the improper communication be disclosed to appellate counsel in the case. New York Opinion 2018-157.
Magistrate judges should not host a radio talk show on sports law, new laws, amendments to existing laws, opinions from the Supreme Court, and court procedures even if they would not be paid; the show will be taped and edited, not live; the judges will control the topics and narratives; and the judges will not take questions from callers. South Carolina Opinion 10-2019.
A judge may serve as executor/trustee of a friend’s will/trust and as guardian of the friend’s child if the friend and the judge have a long and involved relationship that appears to be more than a mere friendship and is more akin to a close familial relationship. Washington Opinion 2019-4.
With conditions, a judge’s spouse may volunteer as a court-appointed special advocate in the judicial district in which the judge presides and advocate on behalf of children in the juvenile court system and domestic violence protection order cases in which the judge is not presiding. Wyoming Opinion 2019-1.
A judge may be the plenary speaker at a non-fund-raising event sponsored by a not-for-profit homelessness services network and speak about religious and spiritual issues, mental illness, drug and alcohol addiction, and progress in community responses to homelessness if the judge will not address funding or government support for the homeless. New York Opinion 2019-73.
A judge may serve as officer or director of a bar foundation that provides financial aid to attorneys in personal and professional crisis and may, unless the attorney asks the judge to recuse himself, preside in matters involving attorneys receiving assistance if the judge’s contacts with the attorneys are relatively minimal and occur exclusively through a liaison who presents the case to the board. New York Opinion 2019-55.
A judicial officer may attend, at no cost for him and his guest, a private testimonial dinner in honor of his retirement from the executive committee of an Inn of Court after nearly 20 years, but the judge must report the total cost of their meals. A judge may allow the Inn of Court to establish a student achievement award in his name and may accept a framed commemoration of the award. California Opinion Summary 2019-30.
A judge may not present an award to a friend being recognized as a community leader at a fund-raising event for a non-profit civic organization. Florida Opinion 2019-20.
A judge may contribute to a local historical society that is raising funds for a portrait of a former mayor who remains active in local government. Florida Opinion 2019-21.
A judicial candidate is not obligated to disavow a misstatement about an opponent by a third-party or PAC unless the misstatement involves a substantive, significant fact and not an opinion, the misstatement must be false or a material misrepresentation, and the candidate knows about the statement and its falsity. The obligation to disavow is met by the timely issuance of a press release to all area news media and a prompt letter notifying the third party or PAC it to immediately stop running the statement. West Virginia Opinion 2019-15.
Except in specified circumstances, a judge may not engage in an ex parte communication with a professional or volunteer who works with the court, such as a district attorney investigator, probation officer, probate investigator, social worker, CASA volunteer, or CASA staff, and should require such individuals to communicate through a written report shared with all parties. A judge should not receive an oral up-date from an investigator from the district attorney’s office appointed by the court to search for a child who has been abducted by a parent in a contested custody case but may receive a written up-date. A judge should not permit a deputy probation officer to explain portions of a report in chambers and should ask that any explanations take place with all the parties or their attorneys present or in a supplemental written report. When police officers come to a judge’s house with an affidavit in support of a search warrant, the best practice is for the judge to read the affidavit alone so that the officers cannot add to the facts or explain them, and the judge should decline any offer of additional information. A judge may discuss with the director of the local CASA program administrative issues such as the quality of CASA reports and the role of the advocates in court but must be careful not to discuss individual cases. California Judges Association Opinion 77 (2019).
A judge may not display a rainbow flag or rainbow heart sticker on the bench or in the courtroom to communicate to individuals identifying as lesbian, gay, transgender, or queer that they are in a safe, affirming, and inclusive space. New York Opinion 2019-50.
A judge who oversaw legislation that made West Virginia a right-to-work state while serving as a member of the House of Delegates must recuse himself from any challenge the right-to-work laws. West Virginia Opinion 2019-9.
Court employees who are licensed members of the bar may in general volunteer their services to a pro bono publico service program even in a representative capacity, outside of regular hours of employment, but, before deciding whether to allow a court employee to provide pro bono services, a judicial officer should consider whether the court has a policy related to outside employment or volunteer work, the nature of the employee’s role with the court, the nature of the participation, whether the participation will lead to frequent disqualification of the judicial officer, and whether the participation may convey the impression that the employee is in a position to influence the judge or is expressing the judge’s views on pending or impending cases. Washington Opinion 2019-3.
A judge may not permit an incoming law clerk to accept a salary advance from the law firm for which the law clerk will be working after the clerkship. Maryland Opinion Request 2019-14.
A judge may serve on a governmental task force to address the impacts of closing a prison facility if its members represent a broad spectrum of interests and it will focus on planning for an orderly transition rather than fielding complaints. New York Opinion 2018-168.
A judge may write a book about family law courts and the mental health issues sometimes associated with them, specifically, the “warning signs” that judges and litigants should be concerned about, and may promote the book as long as the judge does not use the prestige of office to promote the book and the judge, his judicial assistant, and members of his family do not sell the book to any member of the Bar. Florida Opinion 2019-18.
With conditions, a judge who re-sentenced a person for a murder committed while the person was a juvenile may, after the person’s probation has ended, participate in a brief e-mail interview that will be published in the person’s memoir. Maryland Opinion Request 2019-13.
A judge may teach or lecture part-time at a private law school and accept reasonable compensation. New York Opinion 2018-168.
A judge may serve in leadership positions in bar associations, including as an officer, director, committee chair, or non-legal advisor to a local or national bar association. New York Opinion 2018-168.
A judge may not serve as an officer of, on the board of directors of, or in any other leadership position in the Anti-Defamation League or the regional chapter of the Anti-Defamation League Pacific Northwest. A judge may participate in the ADL PNW No Place for Hate education campaign if the program’s content does not give the impression that the judge will not apply the law or has a bias or predisposition toward any question that he might be called upon to decide, but should not associate himself with the organization’s positions on public controversies, should disqualify himself from any litigation in which the ADL or ADL PNW is a party, is representing a party, or has participated as amici, and should disclose his affiliation with the ADL and consider recusing if an issue comes before him that involves a matter on which ADL has taken a public position by litigation, lobbying, or direct advocacy. Washington Opinion 2019-1.
A judicial officer may donate an item to a charitable auction as long as her name or participation is not associated with the donated item, but may not donate a drinks and hor d’ouerves event in the new home she shares with her spouse. Her spouse may donate to the auction unless members of the legal community are aware that the donated gift or service features their shared residence or includes personal interaction with the judicial officer. Washington Opinion 2019-2.
A close friend of a judge should not establish a charitable fund in the judge’s name to benefit animal rescue organizations, but guests at the judge’s birthday party may make a one-time donation to an organization in her honor with certain conditions. West Virginia Opinion 2019-10.
A judge may receive payments from her former law firm pursuant to an agreement that pre-dated her appointment but must disclose the payments in any case involving the firm as long as the payments continue. West Virginia Opinion 2019-1.
In a jurisdiction in which a judge is obligated to perform marriages, a judge may not decline to perform marriages for same-sex couples. In a jurisdiction in which performing marriages is discretionary, a judge may not decline to perform marriages for same-sex couples if the judge performs opposite-sex marriages, but may refuse to perform all marriages for members of the public and still perform marriages for family and friends as long as the judge does not refuse to perform same-sex marriages for family and friends. ABA Formal Opinion 485 (2019).
A judge may comment on a proposed rule regarding continuances for parental-leave in the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration. Florida Opinion 2019-4.
A judge may not meet with the appointing authority to discuss candidates for appointment as her co-judge, render “fact-based opinions” on the candidates, or recommend or oppose specific candidates. New York Opinion 2018-142.
The Colorado District Judges’ Association may employ a public information officer, but the Association’s members and particularly its officers are responsible for ensuring that any information provided by the public information officer complies with the code of judicial conduct. The public information officer may disseminate general educational information, including how courts operate, how they make decisions, and how judges are appointed and retained; may share facts with or respond to inquiries from news media, bar associations, and other specific members of the public; and may, under certain circumstances, advocate before decision-makers about issues that concern the Association’s members. Colorado Opinion 2019-1.
A judicial officer may serve on a non-profit organization’s advisory board that will draft legislation to reform part of the criminal law system and may provide testimony before the legislature and meet with legislative sponsors. California Oral Advice Summary 2019-27.
An appellate justice may serve on an advisory panel for a state-funded grant program that sponsors educational projects about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and other civil rights violations. California Oral Advice Summary 2019-28.
A judge may serve on the board of directors of the not-for-profit Association for Children with Learning Disabilities, which does not accept referrals from the courts or regularly engage in litigation in any court. New York Opinion 2018-166.
In determining whether to attend or to participate as a lecturer or panel member at a conference or seminar sponsored by a research institute, think tank, association, public interest group, or other organization engaged in public policy debates, a judge or judicial employee should assess (1) the identity of the sponsor of the conference or seminar; (2) the subject of the conference or seminar; (3) whether the seminar or conference has political overtones; (4) the nature and source of funding for the conference or seminar; (5) whether the sponsor or a source of substantial funding is involved in litigation or likely to be involved; and (6) the nature of the expenses paid. U.S. Advisory Opinion 116 (2019).
A judge may plan and attend a community blood drive and organ donor registration event in memory of a deceased relative if his judicial designation will not appear on any advertisements or invitations and he will not personally solicit anyone to participate. New York Opinion 2018-143.
A judge may not participate in a 5K athletic/sporting event organized and promoted by the district attorney’s office to raise awareness of and prevent domestic violence. New York Opinion 2018-147.
A judge may participate in the filming in another state of a pilot for a television show in which pro se litigants will have their small claims cases resolved by the show’s presiding judge but may not remain on the bench if he accepts a role in the show. Florida Opinion 2019-2.