December 18, 2008
Cultural Reality And Judicial Ethics
It seems to be a day for adopting new codes of judicial conduct: linked here is the effort of the Montana Supreme Court. The new rules are made effective on January 1, 2009.
As in Minnesota, there are number of opinions attached to the new rules.
Justice Leaphart concurs but points out an "internal inconsistency" in the rule relating to membership in organizations that discriminate:
If... affiliation with entities that engage in discriminatory conduct is abhorrent, the Code should be consistent in its prohibition and not carve out an exception for organizations that practice invidious discrimination under the name of religion.
Justice Rice, joined by Justice Warner, concurs and dissents on several points. He would not restrict attending partisan political events:
I believe that such practices reflect the reality of Montana culture... I recall attending a Republican dinner in a rural county which was attended by a large contingent of local Democrats. Everyone was grinning from ear to ear, because it was more about community than anything else. Further, events such as campaign visits by presidential candidates are often historical events which judges should be able to observe without fear of sanction.(Mike Frisch)
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