Thursday, August 10, 2017
An opinion of the Connecticut Committee on Judicial Ethics addresses an important issue
A lawyer in a highly contested case is pregnant and members of the bar are hosting a baby shower in her honor. (1) May the Judicial Official, presiding over the contested case, attend the baby shower and give a gift? (2) May court staff, including the Judicial Official’s courtroom clerk and court reporter/monitor, attend the shower and give a gift?
...the Committee agreed that the rules for receipt of a gift by a Judicial Official should serve as a guide for gifts that a Judicial Official can give. The foregoing opinions generally indicate that when a person is before a Judicial Official, the Judicial Official may not accept a gift from that individual.
Based upon the foregoing, the Judicial Official was advised that he or she should not provide a gift to the attorney and should not attend the shower. The Judicial Official was further advised that, pursuant to Rule 2.12, the courtroom clerk and court reporter/monitor, assigned to work under his or her supervision on the contested case involving the pregnant attorney, should not attend or give a gift if the case is still pending while the shower takes place, but that other staff may attend. One Committee member noted that in some courthouses, judges have a different monitor in the courtroom every week or even daily. If this is the case in the Judicial Official’s situation, he or she should advise the monitor/reporter supervisor.
An opinion in a recent unrelated matter concludes
The Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame has asked a Judicial Official to be an Honoree at its annual induction ceremony. Three individuals will be inducted and approximately 10 individuals will be recognized as Honorees. While the induction ceremony is a fundraiser, the program is designed to recognize the contributions of the women who are Inductees and Honorees. The Judicial Official has inquired if she may participate as an Honoree and, if so, if it is permissible for the Judicial Official to participate in a media interview regarding her experience that qualifies her to be an Honoree...
Based upon the facts provided, including that the event at which the Judicial Official would be recognized is designed for “Heroic Women: Honoring those who Protect and Serve”, and the major focus is on the three Inductees for their military and law enforcement service, the Committee unanimously determined that the event is not one that concerns the law, the legal system or the administration of justice within the meaning of Rule 3.7. The Committee noted that the Judicial Official could be an Honoree at a future program, based upon her service as a prosecutor and Judicial Official, if one of the major program themes concerns the law, the legal system or the administration of justice.