2014-2 (Emergency Staff Opinion issued March 10,
Off the Bench Conduct; Use of Name; Writing
Rules 1.2, 1.3, 2.11
May a Judicial Official
sign a petition, to be presented to an educational
program’s parent organization, requesting that the
program be kept operating?
parent organization is a nonprofit entity and the
program is unrelated to the law. The Judicial
Official has personal knowledge about the program
that may be closed. If permitted to sign the
petition, the Judicial Official would not indicate
his or her title.
The inquiry was circulated
to the Committee members and their input solicited.
Rule 1.2 states that a judge “shall act at all times
in a manner that promotes public confidence in the …
impartiality of the judiciary, and shall avoid
impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.
The test for appearance of impropriety is whether
the conduct would create in reasonable minds a
perception that the judge violated this Code or
engaged in other conduct that reflects adversely on
the judge’s honesty, impartiality, temperament, or
fitness to serve as a judge.”
1.3 states “A judge shall not use or attempt to use
the prestige of judicial office to advance the
personal or economic interests of the judge or
others or allow others to do so.”
Rule 2.11(a) states that a judge “shall disqualify
himself or herself in any proceeding in which the
judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned
Based upon the facts presented,
the Judicial Official was advised that he or she may
sign the petition subject to the following
- The Judicial Official does not
use his or her title.
- There are no cases
pending before the Judicial Official in which the
program or the parent nonprofit organization is a
party nor have there been any such cases for a
reasonable period of time, under the circumstances,
prior to the Judicial Official signing the petition.
- The Judicial Official
recuses him or herself for a reasonable period of
time, under the circumstances, if a case comes
before the Judicial Official involving either the
program or the parent organization; however, if the
Judicial Official believes that compliance with this
condition is likely to result in frequent
disqualification, the Judicial Official should not
sign the petition.
Committee on Judicial Ethics