Code of Judicial Conduct

CJC Canons Amend. The Utah Supreme Court is considering wholesale changes to the Utah Code of Judicial Conduct. The changes are based on the new ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct, which was issued in 2007. The ABA Model Code is based on the previous Model Code, but the format is different and there are many new and deleted provisions. The draft document shows the variations from the 2007 Model Code that Utah is considering.

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One thought on “Code of Judicial Conduct
  1. David Miller

    Rule 4.1(A)(5) prohibits attendance at political gatherings, but fails to define what that means. Such an undefined, vague and broad prohibition both violates judges’ First Amendment rights, and lends to the increased improper public perception that the judges are out of touch and uninformed.
    I am not advocating that judges should become in anyway involved by taking any side in the public partisan bickering between opposing parties and candidates. However, I am suggesting that attendance at certain “political gatherings” should be encouraged, not prohibited — both for the public and the judges’ best interest.
    “Politicks is the science of good sense, applied to public affairs, and, as those are forever changing, what is wisdom to-day would be folly and perhaps, ruin to-morrow. Politicks is not a science so properly as a business. It cannot have fixed principles, from which a wise man would never swerve, unless the inconstancy of men’s view of interest and the capriciousness of the tempers could be fixed.” [Fisher Ames (1758–1808)]
    Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary defines POLITICAL as:
    Po*lit”i*cal\, a. 1. Having, or conforming to, a settled system of administration. [R.] “A political government.” –Evelyn.
    2. Of or pertaining to public policy, or to politics; relating to affairs of state or administration; as, a political writer. “The political state of Europe.” –Paley.
    3. Of or pertaining to a party, or to parties, in the state; as, his political relations were with the Whigs.
    4. Politic; wise; also, artful. [Obs.] –Sterne.
    Which definition is part of this Code?
    Does a politcal gathering include:
    All judges should be allowed to attend any of these. Indeed, I go farther and say that they should be ENCOURGAGED to attend a Meet the Candidates Night — rather than barred from entering the room.
    Please consider revisions to this vague prohibition. You might partially solve the problem by inserting the word “organization” between “political” and “gathering” because the Code does already define a political organization. However, if you do so, please also clarify that attendance at a public meeting where all sides are allowed expression (such as a Meet the Candidates Night) is specifically not prohibited, so long as the judge takes no sides nor allows his presence to be considered supportive of any side.