June 4, 1976
Re: Canons 2A and 3
This is in response to your recent letter inquiring about the permissibility and propriety of a Judge to express his personal sectarian religious views during the course of a motion for reduction of sentence hearing.
You have attached a copy of your proposed comments which you indicate will be utilized when you find that the defendant has met the statutory criteria for probation. The substance of the proposal reflects an effort on your part to express and share with the defendant your personal secretarian religious beliefs and teachings presumably with the hope that they will have some influence upon the defendant.
The nature of your inquiry was such as to necessitate a determination of whether the matter was properly within this Committee's jurisdiction. Upon due consideration a majority of the Committee (6-4) was of the opinion that the inquiry is within the Committee's jurisdiction and that 5 of those six members were of the further opinion that the injection of one's personal sectarian religious views into a judicial proceeding would be inconsistent with Canons 2A and B and Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct.
Of course you realize that the opinions of this Committee are advisory in nature only and are intended to serve as a guide to the judge in assessing the propriety of contemplated judicial and nonjudicial conduct.
We appreciate your interest and trust the foregoing will be of assistance to you.
Chairman, Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
Participating members: Boyer, Hanlon, Hewitt, Kaney, Mason, Murphee, Stephenson and Thomas MacDonald, Esquire