July 8, 2010
A recent judicial ethics opinion is summarized on the web page of the Ohio Supreme Court:
The Supreme Court of Ohio’s Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline has issued an advisory opinion concerning making a charitable contribution in lieu of serving the community control sanction of community service.
The board noted that it does not have authority to interpret laws governing sentencing or to render advice as to the application of the sentencing laws. “Thus, the Board cannot advise as to whether Ohio law provides for a judge to allow an offender to substitute a charitable contribution in place of serving a community control sanction of community service as sentenced.” However, the board “may render advice as to whether conduct is ethical.”
Opinion 2010-4 addresses the following question: “Is it proper for a judge who has sentenced an offender for a felony or a misdemeanor offense to grant the offender’s request to replace a community control sanction of community service with a financial contribution to a charitable organization?”
The opinion finds that a judge should not grant the request unless there is authorization by law. Without such authorization by law, the opinion finds that it is not ethically proper because it would not uphold the law; because it would not promote public confidence in the independence, integrity and impartiality of the judiciary; and because it would convey the impression that money and outside influence impacts sentencing.
Several ethical rules in the Ohio Code of Judicial Conduct were consulted in issuing this advisory opinion, including: Jud. Cond. Rules 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 2.2 and 2.4(C).
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