233 P.3d 815 (Okla.Jud.Eth. 2010), 2010-3, In re Judicial Ethics Opinion 2010-3

Docket Nº:2010-3.
Citation:233 P.3d 815, 2010 OK JUD ETH 3
Judge Panel:Robert L. Bailey, Chairman, Milton C. Craig, Secretary, Robert E. Lavender
Case Date:June 14, 2010
Court:Oklahoma Judicial Ethics Advisory Panel

Page 815

233 P.3d 815 (Okla.Jud.Eth. 2010)

2010 OK JUD ETH 3


No. 2010-3.

Oklahoma Judicial Ethics Advisory Panel.

June 14, 2010

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): May a judge's bailiff endorse, participate in the campaign of or otherwise support a candidate for political office when the candidate is a close personal friend of the bailiff?

¶ 2 Answer: No.

¶ 3 Facts: The candidate in this particular case is a candidate for court clerk who is elected in a partisan political race. The position is in the county in which the judge sits.

¶ 4 Discussion: Canon 5 (A)(1)(b)(c) prohibits a judge from endorsing or opposing another candidate for public office.

¶ 5 Canon 5 1. A. (3)(b) provides a judge or judicial candidate " should prohibit employees and officials who serve at the pleasure of the candidate from doing on the candidates behalf what the candidate is prohibited from doing" under the Section of this Canon.

¶ 6 Judges and judicial candidates are prohibited by statute from engaging in partisan political activities even to the extent that they are prohibited from publicly stating their partisan political affiliation. These are rights and privileges that judges and judicial candidates are required to give up if they seek to serve as a judge which is a non-partisan public office in our state. The reason behind this prohibition is to ensure the independence of the judiciary and the public perception of impartiality.

¶ 7 The question becomes " May a judge require an employee to abide by the same standards?" The Code 5 1. A. (3)(a) provides that a judge or judicial candidate should encourage members of the candidates family to adhere to the same standards of political conduct in support of the candidate as apply to the candidate. We have previously stated that the Code of Judicial Conduct does not apply to members of the family of the judge or judicial candidate and that while the judge should discourage a family member from engaging in political activities from which the judge or candidate is...

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