1. A Judge Shall Uphold the Integrity and Independence of the Judiciary.
2. A Judge Shall Avoid Impropriety and the Appearance of Impropriety in All of the Judge's Activities.
3. A Judge Shall Perform the Duties of the Office Impartially and Diligently.
4. A Judge Shall Conduct All Extra-Judicial Activities so as to Minimize the Risk of Conflict With Judicial Obligations.
5. A Judge or Judicial Candidate Shall Refrain From Political Activity Inappropriate to Judicial Office. Application of the Code of Judicial Conduct.
The role of the judiciary is central to American concepts of justice and the rule of law. This Code of Judicial Conduct establishes standards for the ethical conduct of judges to reflect the responsibilities of the judicial office as a public trust and to promote confidence in our legal system. The Code and its individual Canons are designed to provide guidance to judges and candidates for judicial office and to provide a framework for the regulation of conduct through the Board on Judicial Standards. At the same time, the text embodies standards of judicial and personal conduct intended to be binding on judges and candidates for judicial office. (Effective January 1, 1996.)
A Judge Shall Uphold the Integrity and Independence of the Judiciary
An independent and honorable judiciary is indispensable to justice in our society. A judge should participate in establishing, maintaining and enforcing high standards of conduct, and personally observe those standards in order to preserve the integrity and independence of the judiciary. The provisions of this Code should be construed and applied to further that objective.
(Effective January 1, 1996.)
A Judge Shall Avoid Impropriety and the Appearance of Impropriety in All of the Judge's Activities
A. A judge shall respect and comply with the law and act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.
B. A judge shall not allow family, social, political or other relationships to influence judicial conduct or judgment. A judge shall not lend the prestige of the office to advance the private interests of the judge or others; nor shall a judge convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge. A judge shall not testify voluntarily as a character witness.
C. A judge shall not knowingly hold membership in any organization that practices unlawful discrimination. (7/1/05)
(Effective January 1, 1996.)
A Judge Shall Perform the Duties of the Office Impartially and Diligently
The judicial duties of a judge take precedence over all other activities. Judicial duties include all the duties of the judge's office prescribed by law. In the performance of these duties, the following standards apply:
A. Adjudicative Responsibilities.
(1) A judge shall hear and decide promptly, efficiently and fairly matters assigned to the judge except those in which disqualification is required.
(2) A judge shall be faithful to the law and maintain professional competence in it. He or she shall be unswayed by partisan interests, public clamor or fear of criticism.
(3) A judge shall require order and decorum in all proceedings before the judge.
(4) A judge shall be patient, dignified and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers and others dealt with in an official capacity, and shall require similar conduct of lawyers and of court personnel and others subject to the judge's direction and control.
(5) A judge shall perform judicial duties without bias or prejudice. A judge shall not, in the performance of judicial duties, by words or conduct manifest bias or prejudice, including but not limited to bias or prejudice based upon race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status, and shall not permit court personnel and others subject to the judge's direction and control to do so.
(6) A judge shall require lawyers in proceedings before the judge to refrain from manifesting, by words or conduct, bias or prejudice based upon race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status, in relation to parties, witnesses, counsel or others. This Section 3A(6) does not preclude legitimate advocacy when race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status, or other similar factors, are issues in the proceeding.
(7) A judge shall accord to every person who has a legal interest in a proceeding, or person's lawyer, the right to be heard according to law. A judge shall not initiate, permit or consider ex parte communications, or consider other communications made to the judge outside the presence of the parties concerning a pending or impending proceeding, except that:
(a) Where circumstances require, ex parte communications for scheduling, administrative purposes or emergencies that do not deal with substantive matters or issues on the merits are authorized; provided:
(i) the judge reasonably believes that no party will gain a procedural or tactical advantage as a result of the ex parte communication, and
(ii) the judge makes provision promptly to notify all other parties of the substance of the ex parte communication and allows an opportunity to respond.
(b) A judge may obtain the advice of a disinterested expert on the law applicable to a proceeding before the judge if the judge gives notice to the parties of the person consulted and the substance of the advice, and affords the parties reasonable opportunity to respond.
(c) A judge may consult with other judges and with court personnel whose function is to aid the judge in carrying out the judge's adjudicative responsibilities.
(d) A judge may, with the consent of the parties, confer separately with the parties and their lawyers in an effort to mediate or settle matters pending before the judge.
(e) A judge may initiate or consider any ex parte communications when expressly authorized by law to do so.
(8) A judge shall not, while a proceeding is pending or impending in any court, make any public comment that might reasonably be expected to affect its outcome or impair its fairness or make any nonpublic comment that might substantially interfere with a fair trial or hearing. The judge shall require similar abstention on the part of court personnel subject to the judge's direction and control. This subsection does not prohibit judges from making public statements in the course of their official duties or from explaining for public informaiton the procedures of the court. This subsection does not apply to proceedings in which the judge is a litigant in a personal capacity.
(9) A judge shall not, with respect to cases, controversies or issues that are likely to come before the court, make pledges or promises that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of the office.
(10) A judge shall not commend or criticize jurors for their verdict other than in a court order or opinion in a proceeding, but may express appreciation to jurors for their service to the judicial system and the community.
(11) Except in the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals, a judge shall prohibit broadcasting, televising, recording or taking photographs in the courtroom and areas immediately adjacent thereto during sessions of court or recess between sessions. A judge may, however, authorize:
(a) the use of electronic or photographic means for the presentation of evidence, for the perpetuation of a record or for other purposes of judicial administration;
(b) the broadcasting, televising, recording or photographing of investitive, ceremonial or naturalization proceedings;
(c) the photographic or electonic recording and reproduction of appropriate court proceedings under the following conditions:
(i) the means of recording will not distract participants or impair the dignity of the proceedings;
(ii) the parties have consented, and the consent to be depicted or recorded has been obtained from each witness appearing in the recording and reproduction;
(iii) the reproduction will not be exhibited until after the proceeding has been concluded and all direct appeals have been exhausted; and
(iv) the reproduction will be exhibited only for instructional purposes in educational institutions.
(12) A judge shall not disclose or use, for any purpose unrelated to judicial duties, nonpublic information acquired in a judicial capacity.
B. Administrative Responsibilities.
(1) A judge shall diligently discharge the judge's administrative responsibilities without bias or prejudice and maintain professional competence in judicial administration and shall cooperate with other judges and court officials in the administration of court business.
(2) A judge shall require court personnel and others subject to the judge's direction and control to observe the standards of fidelity and diligence that apply to the judge, and to refrain from manifesting bias or prejudice in the performance of their official duties.
(3) A judge with supervisory authority for the judicial performance of other judges shall take reasonable measures to assure the prompt disposition of matters before them and the proper performance of their other judicial responsibilites.
(4) A judge shall not make unnecessary appointments of personnel. A judge shall exercise the power of appointment impartially and on the basis of merit, avoiding nepotism and favoritism. A judge shall not approve compensation of appointees beyond the fair value of services rendered.
C. Disciplinary Responsibilities.
(1) A judge shall take or initiate appropriate disciplinary measures against a judge or lawyer for unprofessional conduct of which the judge may become aware.
(2) Acts of a judge, in the discharge of disciplinary responsibilities, required or permitted by Section 3C(1) are part of the judge's judicial duties.
(1) A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned, including but not limited to instances where:
(a) the judge has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party or a party's lawyer, or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceeding;
(b) the judge served as lawyer in the matter in controversy, or a lawyer with whom the judge previously practiced law served during such association as a lawyer concerning the matter, or the judge or such lawyer has been a material witness concerning it;
(c) the judge knows that he or she, individually or as a fiduciary, or the judge's spouse, significant other, parent or child wherever residing, or any other member of the judge's family residing in the judge's household, has an economic interest in the subject matter in controversy or is a party to the proceeding, or has any other interest that could be substantially affected by the proceeding;
(d) the judge or the judge's spouse or significant other or a person within the third degree of relationship to any of them, or the spouse of such a person:
(i) is a party to the proceeding, or an officer, director or trustee of a party;
(ii) is acting as a lawyer in the proceeding;
(iii) is known by the judge to have an interest that could be substantially affected by the proceeding;
(iv) is to the judge's knowledge likely to be a material witness in the proceeding.
(e) the judge, while a judge or a candidate for judicial office, has made a public statement that commits the judge with respect to:
(i) an issue in the proceeding; or
(ii) the controversy in the proceeding.
(2) A judge shall keep informed about the judge's personal and fiduciary economic interests, and make a reasonable effort to keep informed about the personal economic interests of the judge's spouse, significant other and minor children wherever residing.
E. Remittal of Disqualification.
A judge disqualified by the terms of Section 3D may disclose on the record the basis of the judge's disqualification, and may ask the parties and their lawyers to consider, out of the presence of the judge, whether to waive disqualification. If following disclosure of any basis for disqualification other than personal bias or prejudice concerning a party, the parties and lawyers, without participation by the judge, all agree that the judge should not be disqualified, and the judge is then willing to participate, the judge may participate in the proceedings. The agreement shall be incorporated in the record of the proceeding.
"Impartiality" or "impartial" denotes absence of bias or prejudice in favor of, or against, particular parties or classes of parties, as well as maintaining an open mind in considering issues that may come before the judge.
(Effective September 14, 2004.)
A Judge Shall Conduct All Extra-Judicial Activities so as to Minimize the Risk of Conflict With Judicial Obligations
A. Extra-Judicial Activities in General.
A judge shall conduct all extra-judicial activities so that they do not:
(1) cast reasonable doubt on the judge's capacity to act impartially as a judge;
(2) demean the judicial office; or
(3) interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties.
B. Avocational Activities.
A judge may write, lecture, teach, speak and participate in other extra-judicial activities concerning the law, the legal system, the administration of justice and non-legal system, the administration of justice and non-legal activities, including the arts, sports and other social and recreational activities, subject to the requirements of this Code.
C. Governmental, Civic or Charitable Activities.
(1) A judge shall not appear at a public hearing before, or otherwise consult with, an executive or legislative body or official except on matters concerning the law, the legal system or the administration of justice or except when acting pro se in a matter involving the judge or the judge's interests.
(2) A judge shall not accept appointment to a governmental committtee or commission or other governmental position that is concerned with issues of fact or policy on matters other than the improvement of the law, the legal system or the administration of justice. A judge may, however, represent a country, state or locality on ceremonial occasions or in connection with historical, educational or cultural activities.
(3) A judge may participate in civic and charitable activities that do not reflect adversely upon the judge's impartiality or interfere with the performance of judicial duties. A judge may serve as an officer, director, trustee or non-legal advisor of an educational, religious, charitable, fraternal or civic organization not conducted for the economic or political advantage of its members, subject to the following limitations and the other requirements of this Code:
(a) A Judge shall not serve as an officer, director, trustee or non-legal advisor if it is likely that the organization:
(i) will be engaged in proceedings that would ordinarily come before the judge, or
(ii) will be engaged frequently in adversary proceedings in the court of which the judge is a member or in any court subject to the appellate jurisdiction of the court of which the judge is a member.
(b) A judge shall not solicit funds for any educational, religious, charitable, fraternal or civic organization, or use or permit the use of the prestige of judicial office for that purpose, but may be listed as an officer, director or trustee of such an organization. A Judge shall not be a speaker or the guest of honor at an organization's fund raising events, but may attend such events. A judge may participate in the management and investment of an organization's funds so long as it does not conflict with other provisions of the Code.
D. Financial Activities.
(1) A judge shall not engage in financial and business dealings that:
(a) may reasonably be perceived to exploit the judge's judicial position, or
(b) involve the judge in frequent transactions or continuing business relationships with those lawyers or other persons likely to come before the court on which the judge serves.
(2) A judge may, subject to the requirements of this Code, hold and manage investments of the judge and members of the judge's family, including real estate, and engage in other remunerative activity.
(3) A judge shall not serve as an officer, director, manager, general partner, advisor or employee of any business entity.
(4) A judge shall manage the judge's investments and other financial interests to minimize the number of cases in which the judge is disqualified. As soon as the judge can do so without serious financial detriment, the judge shall divest himself or herself of investments and other financial interests that might require frequent disqualification.
(5) A judge shall not accept, and shall urge members of the judge's family residing in the judge's household not to accept, a gift, bequest, favor or loan from anyone except for:
(a) a gift incident to a public testimonial, books, tapes and other resource materials supplied by publishers on a complimentary basis for official use; or an invitation to the judge and the judge's spouse or guest to attend a bar-related function or an activity devoted to the improvement of the law, the legal system or the administration of justice;
(b) a gift, award or benefit incident to the business, profession or other separate activity of a spouse or other family member of a judge residing in the judge's household, including gifts, awards and benefits for the use of both the spouse or other family member and the judge (as spouse or family member), provided the gift, award or benefit could not reasonably be perceived as intended to influence the judge in the performance of judicial duties;
(c) ordinary social hospitality;
(d) a gift for a special occasion from a relative or friend, if the gift is fairly commensurate with the occasion and the relationship;
(e) a gift, bequest, favor or loan from a relative or close personal friend whose appearance or interest in a case would in any event require disqualification under Section 3D;
(f) a loan from a lending institution in its regular course of business on the same terms generally available to persons who are not judges;
(g) a scholarship or fellowship awarded on the same terms and based on the same criteria applied to other applicants; or
(h) any other gift, bequest, favor or loan only if the donor is not a party or other person who has come or is likely to come or whose interests have come or are likely to come before the judge; and, if its value exceeds $150, the judge reports it in the same manner as the judge reports compensation in Section 4H.
E. Fiduciary Activities.
(1) A judge shall not serve as executor, administrator or other personal representative, trustee, guardian, conservator, attorney in fact or other fiduciary, except for the estate, trust, conservatorship or person of a family member, and then only if such service will not interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties.
(2) A judge shall not serve as fiduciary if it is likely that the judge as a fiduciary will be engaged in proceedings that would ordinarily come before the judge, or if the estate, trust, conservatorship or ward becomes involved in adversary proceedings in the court on which the judge serves or one under its appellate jurisdiction.
(3) The same restrictions on financial activities that apply to a judge personally also apply to the judge while acting in a fiduciary capacity.
F. Service as Arbitrator or Mediator.
A judge shall not act as an arbitrator or mediator or otherwise perform judicial functions in a private capacity unless expressly authorized by law. A retired judge may participate as mediator or arbitrator if:
(1) the judge does not participate during the period of any judicial assignment,
(2) the judge is disqualified from mediation and arbitration in matters in which the judge served as judge, and is disqualified as judge from matters in which the judge participated as mediator or arbitrator, unless all parties to the proceeding consent after consultation, and
(3) the participation does not reflect adversely on the judge's impartiality.
G. Practice of Law.
A judge shall not practice law. Notwithstanding this prohibition, a judge may act pro se and may, without compensation, give legal advice to and draft or review documents for a member of the judge's family, but may not act as advocate or negotiator nor make an appearance as counsel for a member of the judge's family in a legal matter.
H. Compensation, Reimbursement and Reporting.
(1) A judge may receive compensation and reimbursement of expenses for the extra-judicial activities permitted by this Code, if the source of such payments does not give the appearance of influencing the judge's performance of judicial duties or otherwise give the appearance of impropriety.
(a) Compensation shall not exceed a reasonable amount nor shall it exceed what a person who is not a judge would receive for the same activity.
(b) Expense reimbursement shall be limited to the actual cost of travel, food and lodging reasonably incurred by the judge and, where appropriate to the occasion, by the judge's spouse or guest. Any payment in excess of such an amount is compensation.
(2) A judge shall report the date, place, and nature of any activity for which the judge received compensation, and the name of the payor and the amount of compensation so received. Income from investments, whether in real or personal property and other sources where the judge does not render service in exchange for the income is not extra-judicial compensation to the judge. This report shall be made annually, on or before the first day of May each year, and be filed as a public document in the office of the State Court Administrator.
Disclosure of a judge's income, debts, investments or other assets is required only to the extent provided in the Canon and in Sections 3D and 3E, or as otherwise required by law.
(Effective January 1, 1996.)
A Judge or Judicial Candidate Shall Refrain From Political Activity Inappropriate to Judicial Office
A. In General.
Each justice of the Supreme Court and each Court of Appeals and disctrict court judge is deemed to hold a separate nonpartisan office, Minn. Stat. 204B.06 subd 6.
(1) Except as authorized in Section 5B(1), a judge or a candidate for election to judicial office shall not:
(a) act as a leader or hold any office in a political organization;
(b) publicly endorse or, except for the judge or candidate's opponent, publicly oppose another candidate for public office;
(c) make speeches on behalf of a political organization; or
(d) solicit funds for or pay an assessment to or make a contribution to a political organization or candidate, or purchase tickets for political party dinners or other functions.
(2) A judge shall resign the judicial office on becoming a candidate either in a primary or in a general election for a non-judicial office, except that a judge may continue to hold judicial office while being a candidate for election to or serving as a delegate in a state constitutional convention, if the judge is otherwise permitted by law to do so.
(3) A candidate for a judicial office, including an incumbent judge:
(a) shall maintain the dignity appropriate to judicial office and act in a manner consistent with the integrity and independence of the judiciary, and shall encourage family members to adhere to the same standards of political conduct in support of the candidate as apply to the candidate;
(b) shall prohibit employees who serve at the pleasure of the candidate, and shall discourage other employees and officials subject to the candidate's direction and control from doing on the candidate's behalf what the candidate is prohibited from doing under the Sections of this Canon;
(c) except to the extent permitted by Section 5B(2), shall not authorize or knowingly permit any other person to do for the candidate what the candidate is prohibited from doing under the Sections of this Canon;
(d) shall not:
(i) with respect to cases, controversies or issues that are likely to come before the court, make pledges or promises that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of the office; or knowingly, or with reckless disregard for the truth, misrepresent the identity, qualifications, expressed position or other fact concerning the candidate, or an opponent; or
(ii) by words or conduct manifest bias or prejudice inappropriate to judicial office.
(e) may respond to statements made during a campaign for judicial office within the limitations of Section 5A(3)(d).
B. Judges and Candidates for Public Election.
(1) A judge or a candidate for election to judicial office may, except as prohibited by law,
(a) speak to gatherings on his or her own behalf;
(b) appear in newspaper, television and other media advertisements supporting his or her candidacy; and
(c) distribute pamphlets and other promotional campaign literature supporting his or her candidacy.
(2) A candidate shall not personally solicit campaign contributions except as expressly authorized herein, and shall not personally accept campaign contributions. A candidate may, however, establish committees to conduct campaigns for the candidate through media advertisements, brochures, mailings, candidate forums and other means not prohibited by law. Such committees may solicit and accept campaign contributions, manage the expenditure of funds for the candidate's campaign and obtain public statements of support for his or her candidacy. Such committees are not prohibited from soliciting and accepting campaign contributions and public support from lawyers. Such committees shall not disclose to the candidate the identity of campaign contributors nor shall the committee disclose to the candidate the identity of those who were solicited for contribution and refused such solicitation. A candidate may (a) make a general request for campaign contributions when speaking to an audience of 20 or more people; and (b) sign letters, for distribution by the candidate's campaign committee, soliciting campaign contributions, if the letters direct contributions to be sent to the address of the candidate's campaign committee and not that of the candidate. The candidate must take reasonable measures to ensure that the names and responses, or lack thereof, of those solicited will not be disclosed to the candidate, except that the candidate may be advised of aggregate contribution information in a manner that does not reveal the source(s) of the contributions. A candidate shall not use or permit the use of campaign contributions for the private benefit of the candidate or others.
C. Incumbent Judges.
A judge shall not engage in any political activity except (1) as authorized under any other Section of this Code, (2) on behalf of measures to improve the law, the legal system or the administration of justice, or (3) as expressly authorized by law.
D. Political Organizations.
For purposes of Canon 5 the term "political organization" denotes an association of individuals under whose name a candidate files for partisan office.
"Impartiality" or "impartial" denotes absence of bias or prejudice in favor of, or against, particular parties or classes of parties, as well as maintaining an open mind in considering issues that may come before the judge.
"Candidate" is a person seeking selection for or retention in judicial office by election. A person becomes a candidate for judicial office as soon as he or she makes a public announcement of candidacy, declares or files as a candidate with the election authority, or authorizes solicitation or acceptance of contributions or support. The term "candidate" has the same meaning when applied to a judge seeking election to nonjudicial office.
Canon 5 applies to all judicial candidates. A successful candidate, whether or not an incumbent, is subject to judicial discipline for his or her campaign conduct; an unsuccessful candidate who is a lawyer is subject to lawyer discipline for his or her campaign conduct. A lawyer who is a candidate for judicial office is subject to Rule 8.2 of the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct.
(Effective March 29, 2006)
APPLICATION OF THE CODE OF JUDICIAL CONDUCT
A. Full-Time Judges.
Anyone, whether or not a lawyer, who is an officer of a judicial system performing judicial functions, including an officer such as a full-time referee, special master or magistrate, is a judge within the meaning of this Code. All judges shall comply with this Code except as provided below.
B. Retired Judge.
A retired judge who by law is not permitted to practice law is not required to comply:
(1) except while serving as a judge, with Section 4F; and
(2) at any time with Section 4E.
C. Part-Time Judge.
A part-time judge:
(1) is not required to comply
(a) except while serving as a judge, with Section 3A(10);
(b) at any time, with Sections 4C(2), 4C(3)(a), 4D(1)(b), 4D(3), 4D(4), 4D(5), 4E, 4F, 4G, 4H, 5A(1), and 5C.
(2) shall not practice law in the division of the court on which the judge serves and shall not act as a lawyer in a proceeding in which the judge has served as a judge or in any other proceeding related thereto.
D. Time for Compliance.
A person to whom this Code becomes applicable shall comply immediately with all provisions of this Code except Sections 4D(2), 4D(3) and 4E and shall comply with these Sections as soon as reasonably possible and shall do so in any event within the period of one year.
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