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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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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