SAN FRANCISCO—The California Supreme Court Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions invites public comment on a draft advisory opinion discussing how judges may determine whether advocacy or consultation at public hearings on “matters concerning the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice” is or is not permissible under the Code of Judicial Ethics. The draft opinion discusses the benefit to the public and to the members of the executive and legislative branches of government when judges appear at public hearings to provide their unique experience and expertise as judges in matters concerning the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice.
The opinion concludes that a judge may appear at a public hearing or officially consult with an executive or legislative body or public official on matters within the scope of that experience and expertise, provided that the appearance or consultation does not contravene any other provisions of the Code of Judicial Ethics, for example, by commenting on pending or impending proceedings in any court, or by taking a position that could be understood as a commitment with respect to the outcome of cases.
The draft opinion and invitation to comment are posted on the committee’s website at http://www.JudicialEthicsOpinions.ca.gov/itc. The deadline for comment is August 15, 2014.
After considering the public’s comments on the draft opinion, the committee will decide whether or not to publish an opinion in final form. Comments are due by August 15, 2014, and may be submitted in any of the following ways:
The committee will post on the CJEO website, at the close of the comment period, or after August 15, 2014, those public comments submitted with a statement that confidentiality is waived.
CJEO is an independent committee appointed by the Supreme Court to help inform the judiciary and the public concerning judicial ethics topics. CJEO was established as part of the court’s constitutional responsibility to guide the conduct of judges and judicial candidates (Cal. Const., art. VI, § 18, subd. (m)). In making appointments to serve on CJEO, the court selects members of the bench with a strong background in judicial ethics and diverse courtroom experience. The current twelve CJEO members are justices, judges, a commissioner, and a retired bench officer who have served in courts of various sizes throughout the state.
CJEO publishes formal opinions, issues confidential informal opinions, and provides oral advice on proper judicial conduct pursuant to the California Code of Judicial Ethics and other authorities (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 9.80(e)(1)). CJEO acts independently of the Supreme Court, the Commission on Judicial Performance, the Judicial Council, the Administrative Office of the Courts, and all other entities (rule 9.80(b)).