Communications Crossing Lines
Posted by judicialethicsforum on Friday, January, 9, 2009
Coincidentally on the same day, in two public reprimands, the Florida Supreme Court and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court found that two judges crossed the line between acceptable and unacceptable communications. The Florida court found that Court of Appeal Judge Michael Allen “crossed the line” between the use of “intemperate or colorful language” in evaluating another judge’s opinion and a personal attack motivated by animus when he wrote a concurring opinion accusing the other judge of corruption. Inquiry Concerning Allen, 2008 WL 5245846, 33 Fla. L. Weekly S984 (Dec. 18, 2008). The Massachusetts court found that former judge Ernest Murphy “plainly crossed the line” with the content and emphasis of two letters he sent on judicial stationery to the publisher of the Boston Herald in pursuit of settlement in a person libel suit the judge had filed against the paper. Inquiry Concerning Murphy, 52 Mass. 796, 2008 WL 5235634 (Dec. 18, 2008).
by: Cindy Gray, Director, Center for Judicial Ethics, American Judicature Society