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Connecticut Committee on Judicial Ethics
Informal Opinion Summaries

2009-01 (January 21, 2009)
Off the Bench Conduct; Media; Canons 2, 3 & 4

Issue: May a Judicial Official be interviewed on camera concerning the impact of broadcasting court proceedings of the Judicial Branch, the possible future role of television coverage of the courts, and related issues?

Response: Based upon the facts provided, including that the video is being produced by a public television network as part of its anniversary commemoration of the founding of the network, and that the video will not be used in advocacy, fundraising or any other activity from which the network may derive benefits, the Committee unanimously agreed that the Judicial Official may participate subject to the following restrictions: (1) the appearance does not interfere with the Judicial Official’s judicial duties, (2) the Judicial Official does not give opinions that would cast doubt on the Judicial Official’s impartiality, (3) the Judicial Official is careful not to express any predisposition with respect to any particular case, (4) the presentation is factual and instructive, i.e., it explains the procedures used for televising court proceedings, but does not contain comments about pending or impending cases, and (5) the Judicial Official retains the right to review and pre-approve the use of any biographical information concerning the Judicial Official used to advertise the segment, in order to avoid a violation of Canon 2 (b)’s prohibition against lending the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of others. In discussing the matter it was noted that Canon 4 (1) specifically states that a Judicial Official “may speak, write, lecture, teach, and participate in other activities concerning the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice” so long as the Judicial Official acts in the proper performance of judicial duties and does not cast doubt on his or her capacity to impartially decide any issue that may come before the Judicial Official. The Committee wished to emphasize that Judicial Officials retain the right to express personal opinions provided that they comply with these provisions as well as others set forth in the Code.

 

Committee on Judicial Ethics

 


 

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