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Ethics Opinion

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JI-95

August 1, 1994

SYLLABUS

    A judge may allow the judge's name and judicial title to be used in a campaign brochure and a radio in which the judge is quoted as supporting a judicial candidate judge, as long as the endorsement is not used for fundraising.

    References: MCJC 7A(1)(b); JI-14; JTC A/O 13, 52, 108.

TEXT

A district court judge asks whether the judge may allow a candidate for judicial office to run a radio advertisement which quotes the judge's endorsement of the candidacy. The radio ad would read:

    "This is *** District Judge ***. I have known [candidate] in his former capacity as . . . and in his present capacity as . . . [Candidate] is a person of integrity, compassion and common sense -- qualities which are crucial to the position of . . . judge. I endorse his candidacy for re-election to the position of . . . ."

A similar endorsement would appear in the candidate's campaign literature.

    "[Candidate] possesses the qualities essential to the position of . . . judge: integrity, compassion and common sense. I endorse [Candidate's] reelection to this vital office."

A judge must avoid lending the prestige of judicial office for the advancement of the private interests of others, and shall not engage in any other political activity except on behalf of measures to improve the law, the legal system or the administration of justice. MCJC 2C, 7A.

A judge is not prohibited from endorsing judicial candidates by law or by ethics rules. JTC A/O 52 explicitly permitted a judge to distribute endorsement cards endorsing the candidacy of another judge. In accord, JTC A/O 13 and JTC A/O 108, which state:

    "Although MCJC 7A(1) prohibits endorsements of candidates for nonjudicial office, it is silent in regard to candidates for judicial office. Therefore this type of endorsement is permitted." JTC A/O 13."

    "MCJC 7A(1)(b) specifically prohibits a judge or candidate for judicial office from making speeches on behalf of a political party or nonjudicial candidate, or publicly endorsing a candidate for nonjudicial office. It does not, however specifically prohibit endorsement of a candidate for judicial office. It is logical to conclude that, had the code intended to preclude endorsement of judicial candidates, this conduct would be forbidden in the same fashion as proscribed regarding the endorsement of nonjudicial candidates." JTC A/O 108.

Therefore, a judge may allow the judge's name and judicial title to be used in a campaign brochure and a radio advertisement in which the judge is quoted as supporting a judicial candidate judge. It should be noted, however, that a judge may not solicit funds nor engage in fundraising for a judicial candidate, and the endorsement proposed may not be used for fundraising. JI-14.

 
     

 

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