FEBRUARY 12, 2007
Rampant ethics violations by judges across the nation have led to the Judicial Code of Conduct’s first revision in nearly two decades as well as the addition of a rule specifically forbidding sexual favors.
Since the Judicial Code of Conduct was last updated in 1990, about 70 judges across the country have been disciplined publicly for sexual harassment so the judicial ethics group that creates the guidelines has drafted some much-needed revisions for disciplining judges.
The amendments feature more specific behavior that judges should avoid. They include; “sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, comments about physical attributes, repeated and unwanted attempts at a romantic relationship, sexual gestures, offensive or suggestive remarks, sexually explicit questions, improper touching, lewd and vulgar language, suggestive or explicit pictures or images, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that is unwelcome, regardless of gender.”
Additionally, the code covers other conduct issues such as when judges may accept gifts and in what instances they should disqualify themselves from hearing cases. The guidelines are created and drafted by the American Bar Association, the 400,000-member organization that serves as the national representative of the legal profession. The group is holding its annual conference in South Florida this week and is expected to officially adopt the new judicial guidelines.
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