2012-23 (Emergency Staff Opinion issued July 19, 2012)
Extrajudicial Activities; Public Statements; Off the Bench Conduct
Rules 1.2, 2.10, 3.1 & 4.1
May a Judicial Official appear as a guest on a monthly "live call-in" radio
show sponsored by a hospital to discuss the recent U.S. Supreme Court Affordable
Care Act (“ACA”) decision and its implications?
Additional Facts: The focus of the particular show will be on
the Supreme Court's decision... "largely asking the question, okay-- what's next?"
The radio station’s invitation describes the radio show as a forum for healthy
debate, a unique way to link national experts and policy makers with the community.
The goal is to shine a light on the real issues our country faces: access to health
care, quality of care and the cost of care. The JO indicated that other speakers,
including an individual from an issue advocacy organization, may be invited to
appear on the program.
1.2 requires that judges must act at all times in a
manner that promotes public confidence in the
impartiality of the judiciary and must avoid
impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.
Rule 2.10 prohibits judges from making any public statement “that
might reasonably be expected to affect the outcome
or to impair the fairness of a matter pending or
impending in any court or make any non-public
statement that might substantially interfere with a
fair trial or hearing.”
3.1 sets forth general limitations on extrajudicial
4.1 concerns political activities and states that
judges shall not make any statement that would
reasonably be expected to affect the outcome or
impair the fairness of a matter pending or impending
in any court. The rule also prohibits judges from
engaging in any other political activity except on
behalf of measures to improve the law, the legal
system or the administration of justice.
Emergency Staff Opinion: After consulting with several
members of the Committee, staff counsel advised the Judicial Official
that he/she should not participate in the “live call-in” radio talk
show because of the prospect that the Judicial Official could be asked
about or enmeshed in a discussion about the merits of the decision or
about political consequences related to the case.