Judicial ethical code

March 18, 2009
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The Judicial Conference of the United States adopted a revised Code of Conduct yesterday, with one revision focusing on judicial impropriety and the appearance of impropriety. The revised code expands a little on when the appearance of impropriety occurs, but the definition is quite similar to what’s already in the existing code.

Here’s the kicker though: “Judges may reasonably differ in their interpretation” of when impropriety occurs, according to the revised code. Even though the restrictions in the code are cast in pretty general terms, a judge can decide that he or she didn’t do anything that looked improper.

Is it just me or does that not seem like a much of a change? Yes, they expanded on the definition of “appearance of impropriety” but if it’s up to each judge to determine whether it was committed, then there is still no uniform or close-to-uniform guide. The Associate Press had a story about this topic and noted two federal judges remain on the board of a corporate-funded group that provides freebies to judges. Another judge quit the board on the recommendation of the panel.

Based on this example, judges who serve on a boards that give them free seminars and trips can say there’s nothing wrong with that and remain on the board. That doesn’t seem like much of a revision of the Code of Conduct to me. If a judge is sitting on a board and getting freebies, I’d question how much of an influence that has on their decisions as a board member or as a judge.

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  1. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  2. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  3. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  4. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  5. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well