RULE CANON 2 - Part 1 Appendix (CJC): CANON 2

RULE CANON 2 - Part 1 Appendix (CJC): CANON 2

A judge shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety

RULE 2.1 Promoting Confidence in the Judiciary

A judge shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity and impartiality of the judiciary, and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.

[1] Public confidence in the judiciary is eroded by irresponsible or improper conduct by judges. A judge must avoid all impropriety and appearance of impropriety and must expect to be the subject of constant public scrutiny. This principle applies to both the professional and personal conduct of a judge. A judge must therefore accept restrictions on personal conduct that might be viewed as burdensome by the ordinary citizen and should do so freely and willingly.

[2] Actual impropriety is conduct that reflects adversely on the honesty, impartiality, temperament or fitness to serve as a judge.

[3] With regard to the judicial conduct of a judge, an appearance of impropriety is created when a reasonable, fully informed person observing the judge’s conduct would have doubts about the judge’s impartiality.

With regard to the personal conduct of a judge, an appearance of impropriety is created when an individual who observes the judge’s personal conduct has a reasonable basis to doubt the judge’s integrity and impartiality.


RULE 2.2 External Influences on Judicial Conduct

Judges shall decide cases according to the law and facts. Judges shall not permit family, social, political, financial or other relationships or interests to influence their judicial conduct or judgment.


RULE 2.3 Avoiding Abuse of the Prestige of Judicial Office

(A) A judge shall not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the personal or economic interests of the judge or others, or allow others to do so.

(B) A judge shall not convey or permit others to convey the impression that any person or organization is in a position to influence the judge.

[1] It is improper for judges to use or attempt to use their position to gain personal advantage or deferential treatment of any kind. For example, it would be improper for a 3 judge to allude to his or her judicial status to gain favorable treatment in encounters with others, such as persons in official positions and members of the public.

[2] The New Jersey Supreme Court has determined that in certain limited situations a judge may write a letter of recommendation for a current or former law clerk or intern on judicial letterhead; in all other situations, if a letter of recommendation is appropriate, it should be on the judge’s personal stationery.

The situations in which the judge may use judicial letterhead for letters of recommendation for law clerks or interns are as follows: (a) when the letter is addressed to another state or federal government official (this would include letters regarding subsequent additional clerkships or internships); (b) when the letter is addressed to a law school, university, or college in connection with a possible teaching position for the law clerk or intern; and (c) when a potential employer requests a recommendation.

[3] Judges may participate in the process of judicial selection or judicial reappointment by cooperating with appointing authorities and screening committees, and by responding to inquiries from such entities concerning the professional qualifications of a person being considered for judicial office.


RULE 2.4 Testifying as a Character Witness

A judge shall not testify as a character witness in a judicial, administrative, or other adjudicatory proceeding, or otherwise vouch for the character of a person in a legal proceeding.

The testimony of a judge as a character witness injects the prestige of the office into the proceeding in which the judge testifies and may be misunderstood to be an official testimonial. This rule, however, does not afford a judge a privilege against testifying as a witness as to evidentiary facts of which the judge has personal knowledge.