The Judicial Conference of the United States Tuesday adopted a revised Code of Conduct for judges and released its recommendations for new federal judgeships. The conference voted at its biannual meeting to ask Congress to create 63 new federal judgeships, including adding one permanent judge to the Southern District of Indiana.
The Judicial Conference voted in 2007 to add another judge to the Southern District, but the number of judges on that court has remained the same since 1978. The Southern District currently has five judges.
No additional permanent or temporary judges were recommended for the Northern District of Indiana or the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Congress hasn't added to the number of appellate judges since 1990, but has added 29 District Court judgeships in the same time period.
The Judicial Conference adopted its first substantial code revision to the Code of Conduct since 1992. The revised code of Canon 2 for the first time defines the "appearance of impropriety" as occurring when "reasonable minds, with knowledge of all the relevant circumstances disclosed by a reasonable inquiry, would conclude that the judge's honesty, integrity, impartiality, temperament, or fitness to serve as a judge is impaired."
Canon 2 also includes additional forms of impermissible influence and expands the test for an appearance of impropriety to address concerns beyond judges' adjudicative responsibilities.
Canon 3 has been revised to include new language imposing an obligation on judges who learn of a possible code violation and Canons 4, 5, and 6 were consolidated into a new Canon 4, which deals with extra-judicial activities. As a result of the revisions, the number of canons has been reduced to five instead of seven.
At its meeting, the conference advised federal courts nationwide to review their attorney admission procedures and revise them to make sure attorneys have met necessary bar admission requirements. The conference voted to make the existence of sealed cases in federal court more readily apparent by having Web-based lists of civil and criminal cases in District Courts include a case number and a generic name, such as Sealed v. Sealed, for each sealed case.