The Ethics Code for Judges

14 Oct

Just in case you did not know it by their behavior sometimes, Arlington Judges are obligated to adhere to an ethics code in Virginia.

The source document for this code of ethics is called the Canons of Judicial Conduct.

Here are some highlights:

“When the text uses “shall” or “shall not” or “must” or “must not” it is intended to impose binding obligations the violation of which can result in disciplinary action.”

“A judge shall respect and comply with the law and shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary”


“B. Adjudicative Responsibilities.
(1) A judge shall hear and decide promptly matters assigned to the judge except those in which disqualification is required.
(2) A judge shall be faithful to the law and maintain professional competence in it. A judge shall not be swayed by partisan interests, public clamor or fear of criticism.
(3) A judge shall require order, decorum, and civility in proceedings before the judge.”

“(4) A judge shall be patient, dignified and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers and others with whom the judge deals in an official capacity, and shall require similar conduct of lawyers, and of staff, court officials and others subject to the judge’s direction and control.”

“(5) A judge shall perform judicial duties without bias or prejudice. A judge shall not, in the performance of judicial duties, by words or conduct manifest bias or prejudice, including but not limited to bias or prejudice based upon race,  sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status, and shall not permit staff, court officials and others
subject to the judge’s direction and control to do so. This Section 3B(5) does not preclude proper judicial consideration when race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status, or similar factors, are issues in the proceeding.”

“(7) A judge shall accord to every person who has a legal interest in a proceeding, or that person’s lawyer, the right to be heard according to law. A judge shall not initiate, permit, or consider ex parte communications, or consider other communications made to the judge outside the presence of the parties concerning a pending or impending proceeding except that:
(a) Where circumstances require, ex parte communications for scheduling, administrative purposes or emergencies that do not deal with substantive matters or issues on the merits are authorized; provided:
(i) The judge reasonably believes that no party will gain a procedural or tactical advantage as a result of the ex parte  communication, and
(ii) The judge makes provision promptly to notify all other parties of the substance of the ex parte communication and allows an
opportunity to respond.”

“(8) A judge shall dispose promptly of the business of the court. ”

“(11) A judge shall not disclose or use, for any purpose unrelated to judicial duties, nonpublic information acquired in a judicial capacity. ”

“C. Administrative Responsibilities.
(1) A judge shall diligently discharge the judge’s administrative responsibilities without bias or prejudice and maintain professional competence in judicial administration, and shall cooperate with other judges and court officials in the administration of court business.
(2) A judge shall require staff, court officials and others subject to the judge’s direction and control to observe the standards of fidelity and diligence that apply to the judge and to refrain from manifesting bias or prejudice in the performance of their official duties.
(3) The chief judge shall take reasonable measures to assure the prompt disposition of matters before the court.”

“E. Disqualification.
(1) A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned, including but not limited to instances where: (a) The judge has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party or a party’s lawyer, or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceeding; (b) The judge served as a lawyer in the matter in controversy, or a lawyer with whom the judge previously practiced law served during such association as a lawyer concerning the matter, or the judge has been a material witness concerning it;”

“F. Remittal of Disqualification. A judge who may be disqualified by the terms of Section 3E may ask, or have the clerk of court ask, the parties and their lawyers to consider, out of the presence of the judge, whether to waive disqualification. If
following disclosure of any basis for disqualification other than personal bias or prejudice concerning a party, the parties and lawyers, without participation by the judge, all agree that the judge should not be disqualified, and the judge is then willing to participate, the judge may participate in the proceeding. Written evidence of the agreement shall be incorporated in the record of the proceeding.”

Its time that the aberrant judges of Arlington adhere to the ethics code for judges, and those who work with them assure their compliance and/or disqualification.

Read more: Canons of Judicial Conduct.