September 15, 1988
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL
Re: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
Your inquiry dated September 9, 1998
In response to your inquiry dated September 9, 1988, I refer you to the provisions of Canon 7B. That Canon imposes upon a judicial candidate the obligation to campaign in a manner which is not offensive to judicial decorum and to refrain form pledges or promises of conduct in office, other that the faithful and impartial performance of the duties associated with such office. The Canon expressly prohibits the pronouncement of positions relative to disputed legal or political issues and requires that the judicial candidate not misrepresent his identity, qualifications, present status, or any other fact.
Your inquiry is composed of eight specific items involving the potential publication of your views:
a. That I can operate the county court system more efficiently that my opponent;
b. That I enthusiastically support thee death penalty and it should be expanded to more cases;
c. That I will be harsh in imposing punishment on criminals;
d. That judges need to protect the constitutional rights of the accused, but more attention needs to be given to the rights of the victims;
e. That I will use all available legal means to more strenuously enforce child support orders;
f. That my opponent is indecisive;
g. That my opponent is demeaning to people;
h. That I have taken a strong stand on punishing DUI offenders.
Because of the countless statements a judicial candidate could express as an aspect of campaign strategy, it would be a near impossibility for the Committee in each instance to pass upon or censor such utterances. In my judgment the judicial candidate must in substantial part undertake formulating his or her own assessment of a campaign comment within the boundaries of Canon 7B. Toward that end, however, that you are accorded guidance, I have enclosed opinions 78/6, 78/7 and 78/15. I draw your attention to the last two substantive paragraphs of opinion 78/6.
Pursuant to authority conferred upon me by the Committee, I am permitted
to provide a response to inquiries stemming from urgent questions involving
political matters. Consistent with that policy I have circulated this letter
to the Committee's members.
Richard H. Frank, Chairman
Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
cc: All Committee Members