August 4, 1975
Re: Canon 2
Re: Standards of Judicial Conduct
In your inquiry regarding voluntary character reference letters by judges, your posed questions and the committee's answers, with one member dissenting are:
1. Is it proper to write such a letter to a law school to inform them of the background and character of someone who is applying for admission?
2. Is it proper to write such a letter regarding the background and character of someone who is applying for admission to the bar?.
3. Is it proper to write :such a letter on behalf of someone seeking private employment?
Answer: Yes, with the caveat a judge should not lend the prestige of his office to advance the private interest of others.
4. Is it proper to write such a letter to a Bar Grievance Committee?
5. Is it proper to write such a letter to the Supreme Court in a disciplinary action?
6 Is it proper to write such a letter to a Federal Judge in a Criminal Sentencing?
Answer: No. However, furnishing of information pursuant to request by a probation official under the auspices of a judicial officer is not considered as testifying voluntarily.
7. Is it proper to write a reference as to performance and character of a former employee who worked under my direct supervision?
As to specific case circumstances, they should be submitted as they arise. However, the above answers, the rule of reason, and common sense will usually dictate the permissive and the impermissive.
The Committee reaffirms the opinion expressed in its letter to Judge dated March 27, 1975. It is further our opinion that the above answers are consistent with the opinions rendered to Judge .
/s/ GUNTER STEPHENSON, as Chairman
Committee on Standards of Judicial Conduct
cc: all members