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2014 California Rules of Court

Standard 10.20. Court's duty to prohibit bias

(a) General

To preserve the integrity and impartiality of the judicial system, each judge should:

(1)Ensure fairness

Ensure that courtroom proceedings are conducted in a manner that is fair and impartial to all of the participants.

(2)Refrain from and prohibit biased conduct

In all courtroom proceedings, refrain from engaging in conduct and prohibit others from engaging in conduct that exhibits bias, including but not limited to bias based on disability, gender, race, religion, ethnicity, and sexual orientation, whether that bias is directed toward counsel, court personnel, witnesses, parties, jurors, or any other participants.

(3)Ensure unbiased decisions

Ensure that all orders, rulings, and decisions are based on the sound exercise of judicial discretion and the balancing of competing rights and interests and are not influenced by stereotypes or biases.

(Subd (a) amended effective January 1, 2007; previously amended effective January 1, 1994, and January 1, 1998.)

(b) Creation of local committees on bias

Each court should establish a local committee with local bar associations to assist in maintaining a courtroom environment free of bias or the appearance of bias. Courts within one or more counties may choose to form a single committee. The local committee should:

(1)Be composed of representative members of the court community, including but not limited to judges, lawyers, court administrators, and representatives and individuals from minority, women's, and gay and lesbian bar associations and from organizations that represent persons with disabilities;

(2)Sponsor or support educational programs designed to eliminate bias within the court and legal communities, including but not limited to bias based on disability, gender, race, religion, ethnicity, and sexual orientation; and

(3)Develop and maintain an informal procedure for receiving complaints relating to bias in the courtroom, including but not limited to bias based on disability, gender, race, religion, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.

(Subd (b) amended effective January 1, 2007; adopted effective January 1, 1994; previously amended effective January 1, 1998.)

(c) Minimum components of a complaint procedure

An informal complaint procedure developed and maintained by a local committee on bias should:

(1)Contain a provision specifying that the intent of the procedure is to educate with the purpose of ameliorating the problem rather than disciplining the person who is the subject of the complaint;

(2)Accommodate local needs and allow for local flexibility;

(3)Apply to all participants in courtroom proceedings;

(4)Apply only to complaints as to which the identity of the complainant is known;

(5)To the extent possible and unless disclosure is required by law, protect the confidentiality of the complainant, the person who is the subject of the complaint, and other interested persons;

(6)Relate to incidents of behavior or conduct occurring in courtroom proceedings;

(7)Apply to incidents of bias whether they relate to race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status;

(8)Contain a provision that exempts activities constituting legitimate advocacy when matters of race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status are relevant to issues in the courtroom proceeding;

(9)Focus on incidents that do not warrant discipline but that should be corrected;

(10)With respect to those incidents that if substantiated would warrant discipline, advise the complaining party of the appropriate disciplinary authority;

(11)Contain a provision specifying that nothing in the procedure in any way limits the ability of any person to submit a complaint of misconduct to the appropriate disciplinary body; and

(12)To the extent possible and unless disclosure is required by law, prohibit retention of written records of complaints received but permit collection of data on types of complaints or underlying anecdotes that might be useful in educational programs.

(Subd (c) amended effective January 1, 2007; adopted effective January 1, 1994.)

(d) Application of local rules

The existence of the local committee, its purpose, and the features of the informal complaint procedure should be memorialized in the applicable local rules of court.

(Subd (d) amended effective January 1, 2007; adopted effective January 1, 1994.)

Standard 10.20 amended and renumbered effective January 1, 2007; adopted as sec. 1 effective January 1, 1987; previously amended effective January 1, 1994, and January 1, 1998.

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