November 22, 2011
TV OK, Pay Not, For Judge
A recent opinion of the Florida Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee holds:
May a judge permit criminal arraignments to be broadcast nationally on television by a regular network?
May a judge be paid pursuant to a contract with a television network for a teaching segment which would involve explaining the law, sentencing choices, and interviewing different “players” in the court system?
The committee's conclusion:
...the proposed activity is proscribed by Canon 3(B)(9) which provides in part as follows:
(9) A judge shall not, while a proceeding is pending or impending in any court, make any public comment that might reasonably be expected to affect its outcome or impair its fairness or make any non-public comment that might substantially interfere with a fair trial or hearing.
This Canon prohibits public comment, not only on the inquiring judge’s pending or impending cases, but on pending or impending cases in any court, if the comment might reasonably be expected to affect its outcome or impair its fairness. Teaching segments, such as suggested by the judge, may reasonably be expected to impair the fairness of the tribunal. Therefore, this Committee recommends that no judge should make public comments on pending or impending cases.
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