The Supreme Court is responsible for promulgating the Code of Judicial Ethics pursuant to Article VI, section 18(m), of the California Constitution. The Supreme Court Advisory Committee on the Code of Judicial Ethics makes recommendations to the court regarding whether amendments to the Code are necessary or appropriate.
Invitation to Comment
The committee is currently seeking comment on proposals to amend several subdivisions of canon 3, canon 4, and canon 5. Please note that comments received may become part of the public record. Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for comments is January 12, 2015.
Recent Committee Activity
California Code of Judicial Ethics: Revisions effective January 1, 2013 (showing markups)
About the Committee
The Supreme Court established the Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions (CJEO) to help inform the judiciary and the public concerning judicial ethics topics. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 9.80.) CJEO publishes formal advisory opinions, issues confidential written opinions, and provides oral advice on proper judicial conduct pursuant to the California Code of Judicial Ethics and other authorities. In providing its advisory opinions, the committee acts independently of the Supreme Court, the Commission on Judicial Performance, the Judicial Council, the Administrative Office of the Courts, and all other entities. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 9.80(b).)
CJEO members are appointed by the Supreme Court as part of its constitutional responsibility to guide the conduct of judges and judicial candidates (Cal. Const., art. VI, § 18, subd. (m)). The court appoints members to CJEO who have a strong background in judicial ethics and diverse courtroom experience. CJEO’s current members are judicial officers who have served in courts of various sizes throughout the state.
Recent Committee Activity
CJEO invites comment on a draft judicial ethics advisory opinion (November 19, 2014)
The committee recently issued an Invitation to Comment on CJEO Draft Formal Opinion 2014-007, which provides guidance on disqualification of judges who previously “served as a lawyer in the proceeding.” (Cal. Code Civ. Pro., § 170.1(a)(2).) In the draft opinion, the committee examines the language and legislative history of the disqualification statutes and concludes that the term “served as a lawyer in the proceedings” is intended to include any active participation as an attorney for a party that could create a reasonable doubt as to impartiality. The committee also examines case law from California and other jurisdictions and concludes that active participation does not include a brief appearance on a scheduling or uncontested matter where special knowledge about the case is not gained and no opinion or bias about the matter could be formed. The draft opinion advises that a judge who previously appeared in a case as a deputy district attorney on a nonsubstantive matter, without active participation in the prosecution, is not disqualified to hear the case because such an appearance would not raise a reasonable doubt as to impartiality. The opinion concludes that disqualification where there is no perception of impartiality impedes the administration of justice and defeats the purposes of the disqualification statutes.
The committee invites and welcomes comments from members of the public interested in these issues. Comments are due by December 31, 2014, and may be submitted as follows:
The California Supreme Court Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions
Earl Warren Building
350 McAllister Street, Room 1144A
San Francisco, California 94102.
All comments submitted to the committee are confidential communications that may not be disclosed unless confidentiality is waived. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 9.80(h); CJEO Internal Operating Rules and Procedures, rule 5(b), (e).) Comments submitted with a statement waiving confidentiality will be posted for public view on the CJEO website at the close of the comment period. The online Comment Form provided on the committee’s website includes a waiver option.
The Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Rules for Publication of Court of Appeal Opinions is charged with reviewing the current standards used by the Courts of Appeal and the Supreme Court in determining which Court of Appeal opinions should be certified for publication and with making recommendations to the Supreme Court on what changes, if any, should be instituted to better ensure that appropriate cases are published. The 13-member committee is chaired by Supreme Court Justice Kathryn M. Werdegar.
Final Report and Recommendations (November 2006)
Report and recommendations of the committee appointed by the Supreme Court to review the rules for the publication of Court of Appeal opinions and recommend whether the criteria or procedures in the rules should be changed. The report summarizes publication statistics, survey results and other information considered by the committee and recommends changes in the rules, including stating that an opinion which meets one or more of the publication criteria should be certified for publication.
Invitation to Comment: Revised Recommendations for Amendment to California Rule of Court, Rule 976 (CLOSED April 28, 2006, 32 KB)
News Release: Supreme Court Committee Seeks New Comments on Publication Proposal (February 23, 2006)
Invitation to Comment: Preliminary Report and Recommendations on Rules for Publication of Court of Appeal Opinions (CLOSED Jan. 6, 2006 1,141 KB)
The Supreme Court Multijurisdictional Practice Implementation Committee was appointed to determine the specific rules and procedures necessary to implement recommendations for modifying the restrictions on the practice of law by attorneys who are not members of the State Bar of California. The committee submitted its report and recommendations to the Supreme Court, which has adopted the committee's proposed rules governing practice by non-California attorneys serving as in-house counsel, legal services attorneys, litigation attorneys in California in anticipation of litigation or in connection with litigation elsewhere, and non-litigation attorneys temporarily in California. The new rules took effect on November 15, 2004.
After announcing in late 2007 that it would appoint a Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions, the Supreme Court appointed an Implementation Committee to make recommendations to the court on proposed procedures and rules for the new ethics committee. The Implementation Committee included the seven members of the Supreme Court Advisory Committee on the Code of Judicial Ethics, two members nominated by the Commission on Judicial Performance, and two members nominated by the California Judges Association. The chair of the committee was Justice Richard D. Fybel of the Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division Three. The California Supreme Court then adopted Rule 9.80, effective July 1, 2009, governing the practices and procedures to be followed by its new Supreme Court Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions.