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Connecticut Committee on Judicial Ethics
Informal Opinion Summaries

2014-2 (Emergency Staff Opinion issued March 10, 2014)
Off the Bench Conduct; Use of Name; Writing
Rules 1.2, 1.3, 2.11
Issue: May a Judicial Official sign a petition, to be presented to an educational program’s parent organization, requesting that the program be kept operating?
Additional Facts: The parent organization is a nonprofit entity and the program is unrelated to the law. The Judicial Official has personal knowledge about the program that may be closed.  If permitted to sign the petition, the Judicial Official would not indicate his or her title.
Response: The inquiry was circulated to the Committee members and their input solicited.  Rule 1.2 states that a judge “shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the … impartiality of the judiciary, and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.  The test for appearance of impropriety is whether the conduct would create in reasonable minds a perception that the judge violated this Code or engaged in other conduct that reflects adversely on the judge’s honesty, impartiality, temperament, or fitness to serve as a judge.” 
Rule 1.3 states “A judge shall not use or attempt to use the prestige of judicial office to advance the personal or economic interests of the judge or others or allow others to do so.” 
Rule 2.11(a) states that a judge “shall disqualify himself or herself in any proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned ….” 

Based upon the facts presented, the Judicial Official was advised that he or she may sign the petition subject to the following conditions:

  1. The Judicial Official does not use his or her title.
  2. There are no cases pending before the Judicial Official in which the program or the parent nonprofit organization is a party nor have there been any such cases for a reasonable period of time, under the circumstances, prior to the Judicial Official signing the petition.
  3. The Judicial Official recuses him or herself for a reasonable period of time, under the circumstances, if a case comes before the Judicial Official involving either the program or the parent organization; however, if the Judicial Official believes that compliance with this condition is likely to result in frequent disqualification, the Judicial Official should not sign the petition.

Committee on Judicial Ethics



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