May 13, 1982
This is in response to your inquiry of February 18, 1982, whether it is proper for a Judge to solicit an attorney to run against another Judge. Of the members of the committee, eight were of the opinion that this activity violates Canon 7(1)(b) by "publicly endorsing a Candidate for public office" and Canon 2A by "failing to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the Judiciary." In addition, one of the majority members found it "odious and demeaning for a sitting Judge, either privately or publicly, [to promote opposition for a fellow Judge]." Another majority member reasoned "even if there is no specific Canon, a Judge should never initiate opposition for one of his colleagues for it will create enormous ill will among men and women who must work together." Another member stated as follows "We all have an interest in qualified people becoming Judges but cannot become involved in politics, either by endorsing or soliciting good candidates, or by seeking to rid the bench of those who may be unfit. The latter is the job of the Judicial Qualifications Commission."
The feelings of the two minority members were expressed by one of them
as follows "A judges efforts to solicit opposition against another
Judge may be a poor exercise of discretion, but it does not violate the
Code of Judicial Conduct, unless the activity becomes notorious by the actions
of the activist Judge. If such activities were extended into the public
arena, his conduct may be a violation of Canon 7A(1-b)...A judge might encourage
an attorney to run against another Judge in the same manner he would capture
a live porcupine by hand."
James T. Carlisle, Chairman
Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
cc: All Committte Members