228 P.3d 547 (Okla.Jud.Eth. 2009), 2009-3, In re Judicial Ethics Opinion 2009-3

Docket Nº:2009-3.
Citation:228 P.3d 547, 2009 OK JUD ETH 3
Judge Panel:Robert L. Bailey, Chairman, Milton C. Craig, Secretary, Robert E. Lavender
Case Date:December 18, 2009
Court:Oklahoma Judicial Ethics Advisory Panel

Page 547

228 P.3d 547 (Okla.Jud.Eth. 2009)

2009 OK JUD ETH 3


No. 2009-3.

Oklahoma Judicial Ethics Advisory Panel.

December 18, 2009

Editorial Note:

The Opinions of the Ethics Advisory Panel are advisory only and can be relied by the Council on Judicial Complaints while recommending discipline of a Judge or a Judicial Candidate and not binding on the Council or Courts in the exercise of their judicial discipline responsibilities.

¶ 1 Question(s): Should a judge who is presiding over a class action lawsuit, for a period exceeding three years, and during which interim the judge applied (unsuccessfully) for appointment to an appellate court, recuse from the final hearing to approve settlement of the suit and fix attorneys fees, where the judge believed that some of the attorneys in the case may have made recommendations to the Judicial Nominating Commission on behalf of the judge?

¶ 2 Facts: 1. While presiding over the case the judge made application for a vacant position on the Court of Civil Appeals.

¶ 3 2. One of the judge's supporters for the position recommended he contact several lawyers to solicit their support, including two lawyers who were attorneys in the class action suit.

¶ 4 3. The judge, feeling it was inappropriate to contact these lawyers who were attorneys of record in the pending case, did not contact them but thought perhaps the lawyers who had suggested them had done so and that perhaps they had made contact on his behalf. In fact, the attorneys realized that such conduct might raise ethical questions and did in fact make no contacts.

¶ 5 4. The judge has disclosed the matter to all parties in the case, and it was only after such disclosure that the attorneys advised him that they had taken no action.

¶ 6 Answer(s): Not required per se.

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¶ 7 Discussion: Canon 2 provides " a judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all of the Judge's activities."

¶ 8 Canon 3 E(1) provides " a judge should disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the judge's impartiality might...

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