SAN FRANCISCO—The California Supreme Court Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions (CJEO) invites public comment on a draft opinion about a trial court judge's duty to disclose campaign contributions and other types of campaign assistance.
CJEO Draft Formal Opinion 2018-013 advises that a trial court judge who accepts campaign contributions of $100 or more from parties, lawyers, or law offices or firms that appear before the judge—or any other person whose credibility the judge will evaluate—is required to disclose the contribution. The draft opinion also advises that a judge should disclose other campaign-related assistance, such as indirect financial contributions, combined contributions from lawyers within a law office or firm, or a party, lawyer, or law office or firm’s role with the judge’s campaign. The draft opinion provides guidance about what information the judge must disclose, how to make the disclosure, and when the disclosure obligation begins and for how long it continues.
The draft opinion and invitation to comment are posted on the committee’s website. The deadline for comment is January 18, 2019.
All comments submitted to the committee are confidential communications and precluded from disclosure unless confidentiality is waived. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 9.80(h); CJEO Internal Operating Rules and Procedures, rule 5(b), (e).) Those comments submitted with a waiver of confidentiality will be posted for public view on the CJEO website at the close of the comment period. All of the comments the committee receives will be carefully considered by the CJEO members when finalizing and approving CJEO Formal Opinion No. 2018-013.
After considering the public’s comments on the draft opinion, the committee will decide whether or not to publish an opinion in final form. Comments are due by January 18, 2019, and may be submitted in any of the following ways:
- Online using this Comment Form;
- By email to Judicial.Ethics@jud.ca.gov; or
- By mailing comments to Ms. Nancy Black, Committee Counsel, The California Supreme Court Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions, 350 McAllister Street, San Francisco, California 94102.
CJEO is an independent committee appointed by the Supreme Court to help inform the judiciary and the public concerning judicial ethics topics. (Rule 9.80.) CJEO was established as part of the court’s constitutional responsibility to guide the conduct of judges and judicial candidates. (Cal. Const., art. VI, § 18, subd. (m).) In making appointments to serve on CJEO, the court selects members of the bench with a strong background in judicial ethics and diverse courtroom experience. The current twelve CJEO members are justices, judges, a commissioner, and a retired bench officer who have served in courts of various sizes throughout the state.
CJEO publishes formal advisory opinions, informal advisory opinions, and oral advice summaries on proper judicial conduct pursuant to the California Code of Judicial Ethics and other authorities. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 9.80(e)(1).) CJEO acts independently of the Supreme Court, the Commission on Judicial Performance, the Judicial Council, and all other entities. (Rule 9.80(b).)