The Judicial Ethics Forum (JEF)

An Academic Discussion of Judicial Ethics, Discipline & Disqualification

Judicial Disqualification Based on Commitments and Campaign Contributions

Posted by graycynthia on Thursday, January, 6, 2011

The American Judicature Society Center for Judicial Ethics has started to keep track on its web-site of states’ adoption of rules requiring disqualification based on commitments & campaign contributions. The document, which will be up-dated when there are new developments, is at http://www.ajs.org/ethics/eth_disqualification.asp.

For example, the document notes that the Oklahoma Supreme Court recently adopted a new code of judicial conduct that included a rule requiring disqualification when:

The judge knows or learns by means of a timely motion that a party, a party’s lawyer, or the law firm of a party’s lawyer has within the previous four (4) years made aggregate contributions to the judge’s campaign in an amount that a reasonable person would believe could affect the fairness of the judge’s consideration of a case involving the party, the party’s lawyer or the law firm of the party’s lawyer. The judge should consider what the public perception would be as to such contributions affecting the judge’s ability to be fair to the parties. Contributions within the limits allowed by the Oklahoma Ethics Commission will not normally require disqualification unless other factors are present.

The document complements the similar reports the Center up-dates on case law since Republican Party of Minnesota v. White (www.ajs.org/ethics/pdfs/CaselawafterWhite.pdf) and state-by-state developments since White (www.ajs.org/ethics/pdfs/DevelopmentsafterWhite.pdf).

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