A state Supreme Court committee this month posted a summary of oral advice given to an appellate justice about serving on the advisory panel of a civil liberties program for the California State Library. 

In a summary of the advice, the California Supreme Court Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions concluded the judicial officer may accept appointment by the Governor to serve on the advisory panel for the California State Library. The panel will develop grants and educational programs about the internment of Japanese-American citizens as well as other civil rights violations perpetrated on the basis of race, national origin, immigration status, religion, gender or sexual orientation.

“When we looked at this panel, it was clear that the justice’s service would be an activity involving the law and the administration of justice, and in fact, the panel’s goals fit with those required of judges under the Code of Judicial Ethics, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of national origin or other diverse distinctions,” said committee member Judge Kenneth So of the San Diego Superior Court.

The 12-member committee includes appellate justices, trial court judges and commissioners appointed by the California Supreme Court. Their advice reflects the views of the committee and not of the state Supreme Court.

The committee concluded that the appointment and service was permissible by examining rules permitting and encouraging extrajudicial activities involving the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice, including service as a nonlegal advisor to governmental and civic organizations. (Cal. Code Jud. Ethics, canons 4B, 4C(1), 4C(3)(a) & (b).) The committee also cautioned that service on this advisory panel was permissible so long as the justice determines on a continuing basis that service is otherwise consistent with the obligations of judicial office.

About the Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions (CJEO)
The Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions is an advisory committee that issues written opinions and gives advice on judicial ethics topics of interest to judicial officers, candidates for judicial office, and members of the public. 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. CJEO summarizes its oral advice and posts summaries on its website for the benefit of the bench and the public. The conclusions expressed in CJEO Oral Advice Summaries are those of the committee and do not necessarily reflect the views of the California Supreme Court or any other entity. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 9.80(b); CJEO rule 1(a)).)