For Public Comment: Presiding Judge Communications
The California Supreme Court Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions (CJEO) invites public comment on a draft formal opinion about whether a presiding judge may send a courtwide communication at the request of an outside entity, such as another government agency, a private interest group, or bar association.
In CJEO Draft Formal Opinion 2023-022, the committee concludes presiding judges have a duty to keep their courts informed of administrative and policy developments in the legal system. To that end, presiding judges may send courtwide communications at the request of outside entities, provided that those communications do not undermine judicial impartiality, suggest special influence over the court, advance personal or pecuniary interests, contain prohibited political content, or relate to specific cases pending before the court.
Examples of permissible communications include emails about courthouse facilities and security issues, court administration or budget updates, and announcements about nonpartisan educational events.
Presiding judges are encouraged to keep their courts informed and engaged in the legal community. This opinion provides helpful guidance about factors to keep in mind when disseminating information at the request of outside groups, so the public maintains confidence in the court as fair and impartial,” said committee member Judge Robert Trentacosta.
The committee’s Invitation to Comment is posted on CJEO’s recently updated website. Comments are due by March 23, and may be submitted by CJEO’s online comment form, by email to Judicial.Ethics@jud.ca.gov, or by mail to:
The Supreme Court of California Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions
350 McAllister Street
San Francisco, California 94102
All comments submitted to CJEO may be posted on CJEO’s website for public review unless clearly marked as confidential.
About the Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions (CJEO)
The Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions is a 12-member advisory committee that includes appellate justices, trial court judges, a retired judge, and a commissioner. The committee is appointed and authorized by the California Supreme Court, but its work is independent of the court, the Judicial Council, and all other entities. Its opinions are advisory and do not necessarily reflect the views of the California Supreme Court or any other entity.
The committee issues formal, informal, and expedited advisory opinions on proper judicial conduct pursuant to the California Code of Judicial Ethics and other authorities. CJEO recently updated its website where it posts its advisory opinions, offers resources dedicated to specific judicial assignments and issues, and provides extensive judicial ethics tools and resource materials for the benefit of the bench and the public.