CALL FOR A CONSULTATION 904-725-6161 904-725-6161

Judicial Ethics

The impartial administration of justice in one of the cornerstones of the American judicial system. It is crucial that a judge act fairly and impartially while avoiding any appearance of impropriety. Every state has adopted a code of judicial conduct that sets ethical guidelines for judges. All states also have judicial conduct commissions with the power to investigate, prosecute, and decide cases of judicial misconduct. There is also a code of conduct for federal judges.

Ethical Guidelines
The code of judicial conduct requires a judge to avoid not only impropriety but also the appearance of impropriety. Other issues covered by the code include judicial integrity, independence, diligence, and impartiality. If a judge has personal knowledge of the facts of a case, he or she may not hear the case. Also, a judge may not hear a case if he or she has a personal bias against a litigant. The code of judicial conduct prohibits a judge from hearing a case in which the judge had been involved as a lawyer.

A judge is required to remove (recuse) himself or herself from presiding over a case if he or she has any financial interest in the case. A judge also is required to disqualify himself or herself from a case when there is a perception that the judge cannot be fair and impartial. Under ethical guidelines, a judge should not hold an office in a political organization, make speeches for a political organization or candidate, or publicly endorse or oppose a candidate.

Sanctions For Judicial Misconduct
If a judicial misconduct complaint is filed against a judge, an investigation is conducted. The judicial conduct commission can informally resolve the complaint with the judge and impose conditions on the judge’s conduct or require professional counseling for the judge. If a formal charge is filed against the judge, a hearing is held. Possible sanctions include removal from office and public or private reprimand or censure.

Copyright 2013 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.