The Supreme Court is responsible for promulgating the Code of Judicial Ethics pursuant to Article VI, section 18(m), of the California Constitution. The Supreme Court Advisory Committee on the Code of Judicial Ethics makes recommendations to the court regarding whether amendments to the Code are necessary or appropriate.
Invitation to Comment
The committee is currently seeking comment on a proposal to amend canon 2C, which prohibits judges from being members of organizations that invidiously discriminate.
Recent Committee Activity
California Code of Judicial Ethics: Revisions effective January 1, 2013 (showing markups)
Proposed Changes in Judicial Ethics Circulated for Public Comment (April 16, 2007)
About the Committee
The Supreme Court established the Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions (CJEO) to help inform the judiciary and the public concerning judicial ethics topics. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 9.80.) CJEO publishes formal advisory opinions, issues confidential written opinions, and provides oral advice on proper judicial conduct pursuant to the California Code of Judicial Ethics and other authorities. In providing its advisory opinions, the committee acts independently of the Supreme Court, the Commission on Judicial Performance, the Judicial Council, the Administrative Office of the Courts, and all other entities. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 9.80(b).)
CJEO members are appointed by the Supreme Court as part of its constitutional responsibility to guide the conduct of judges and judicial candidates (Cal. Const., art. VI, § 18, subd. (m)). The court appoints members to CJEO who have a strong background in judicial ethics and diverse courtroom experience. CJEO’s current members are judicial officers who have served in courts of various sizes throughout the state.
Recent Committee Activity
CJEO provides guidance on accepting gifts (August 26, 2014)
The committee recently issued CJEO Formal Opinion 2014-005, which provides practical advice to judges about accepting gifts of little or nominal value offered as tokens of esteem, appreciation, or hospitality. The opinion clarifies that these di minimis items are gifts under the Code of Judicial Ethics and subject to the unqualified ban on gifts from parties and the ban on gifts that create a perception of influence. The opinion also provides an analytical framework for determining whether gifts of little or nominal value that are not otherwise banned may be accepted under the ordinary social hospitality exception in the Code of Judicial Ethics.
CJEO provides guidance on appearing at public hearings (October 2, 2014)
The committee also recently issued CJEO Formal Opinion No. 2014-006, which advises judges on commenting at public hearings and consulting with the other branches of government. The opinion clarifies what comments the Code of Judicial Ethics authorizes judges to make concerning the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice. The opinion cautions that even when making permitted comments, judges still must take care not to violate any other provisions of the Code of Judicial Ethics, for example, by commenting on pending or future proceedings in any court, or by taking a position with respect to the outcome of cases.
Both formal opinions were adopted by the committee after inviting public comment on draft opinions posted on the CJEO website. The committee received a number of thoughtful and informative comments expressing a broad range of views and suggestions. As part of the committee’s public comment process, the comments submitted with a waiver of confidentiality were posted for public view on the CJEO website. The committee considers all of the public comments it receives when finalizing and adopting its advisory opinions.
To contact CJEO directly, call toll-free at 1 (855) 854-5366, or email Judicial.Ethics@jud.ca.gov.
The Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Rules for Publication of Court of Appeal Opinions is charged with reviewing the current standards used by the Courts of Appeal and the Supreme Court in determining which Court of Appeal opinions should be certified for publication and with making recommendations to the Supreme Court on what changes, if any, should be instituted to better ensure that appropriate cases are published. The 13-member committee is chaired by Supreme Court Justice Kathryn M. Werdegar.
Final Report and Recommendations (November 2006)
Report and recommendations of the committee appointed by the Supreme Court to review the rules for the publication of Court of Appeal opinions and recommend whether the criteria or procedures in the rules should be changed. The report summarizes publication statistics, survey results and other information considered by the committee and recommends changes in the rules, including stating that an opinion which meets one or more of the publication criteria should be certified for publication.
Invitation to Comment: Revised Recommendations for Amendment to California Rule of Court, Rule 976 (CLOSED April 28, 2006, 32 KB)
News Release: Supreme Court Committee Seeks New Comments on Publication Proposal (February 23, 2006)
Invitation to Comment: Preliminary Report and Recommendations on Rules for Publication of Court of Appeal Opinions (CLOSED Jan. 6, 2006 1,141 KB)
The Supreme Court Multijurisdictional Practice Implementation Committee was appointed to determine the specific rules and procedures necessary to implement recommendations for modifying the restrictions on the practice of law by attorneys who are not members of the State Bar of California. The committee submitted its report and recommendations to the Supreme Court, which has adopted the committee's proposed rules governing practice by non-California attorneys serving as in-house counsel, legal services attorneys, litigation attorneys in California in anticipation of litigation or in connection with litigation elsewhere, and non-litigation attorneys temporarily in California. The new rules took effect on November 15, 2004.
After announcing in late 2007 that it would appoint a Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions, the Supreme Court appointed an Implementation Committee to make recommendations to the court on proposed procedures and rules for the new ethics committee. The Implementation Committee included the seven members of the Supreme Court Advisory Committee on the Code of Judicial Ethics, two members nominated by the Commission on Judicial Performance, and two members nominated by the California Judges Association. The chair of the committee was Justice Richard D. Fybel of the Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division Three. The California Supreme Court then adopted Rule 9.80, effective July 1, 2009, governing the practices and procedures to be followed by its new Supreme Court Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions.