Home » Posts tagged "上海夜网QX"

Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee tackles disclosure issues

first_imgJudicial Ethics Advisory Committee tackles disclosure issues Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee tackles disclosure issues January 15, 2002 Regular Newscenter_img Disclosure is appropriate when a party is represented by a law firm that previously represented the firm of a judge’s spouse in a legal malpractice action, according to the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee.But disqualification in such an instance is not ethically required and the disclosure is only required for a “reasonable period of time.” Opinion Number: 2001-17The inquiring judge’s spouse is a shareholder and director of a medium-sized law firm. The law firm currently has two malpractice claims pending against it, neither of which alleges wrongdoing by the judge’s spouse. The judge is currently entering orders of recusal in actions in which a party is represented by an attorney from the law firm representing the spouse’s law firm, and the judge questioned whether disclosure is appropriate after the representation ceases, and if disclosure is made, whether disqualification is ethically required.The panel said the issues involve mixed questions of ethics and law and the issue of disqualification is governed by Canon 3E and Florida Rules of Judicial Administration 2.160, while the issue of disclosure is governed by the commentary to Canon 3E.Canon 3E of the Code of Judicial Conduct provides: “A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which a judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” The commentary to Canon 3E of the Code of Judicial Conduct sets forth the circumstances under which disclosure is appropriate: “A judge should disclose on the record information that the judge believes the parties or their lawyers might consider relevant to the question of disqualification, even if the judge believes there is no real basis for disqualification. The fact that the judge conveys this information does not automatically require the judge to be disqualified upon a request by either party, but the issue should be resolved on a case-by-case basis.“Therefore, disclosure of the spouse’s former relationship with a law firm which now represents one of the parties is mandatory if the judge believes the information is relevant to the question of disqualification, and disqualification is required if the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned,” the committee said. “The determination of whether the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned depends upon the nature and extent of the relationship between the spouse and the attorney, whether the attorney was personally involved with the spouse, the monetary or personal significance of the case to the spouse, and the passage of time since the representation.”The committee said the inquiring judge should make a disclosure of the prior relationship for a reasonable period of time following the conclusion of the law firm’s representation, but said the disclosure of information is not an admission of bias but is necessary to enable a party to make an informed decision as to whether or not to seek disqualification.“A reasonable period of time has previously been suggested by this committee to be from several months to one year, depending upon the unique facts and circumstances of the representation,” the panel said.The panel said disclosure does not necessarily require disqualification pursuant to Canon 3E. The Supreme Court has recently held that different standards govern disqualification and disclosure and that the standard for disclosure is lower.In the case of In re: Frank, 753 So. 2d 1228 (Fla. 2000), the Supreme Court embraced the view that disqualification is personal and discretionary with the individual members of the judiciary. In making decisions regarding disqualification, the Supreme Court gave the following guidance to judges: “Judges must do all that is reasonably necessary to minimize the appearance of impropriety. They must remain cognizant of the fact that even in situations where they personally believe that their judgment would not be colored, public perception may differ.”The inquiring judge correctly determined that disqualification is proper in cases in which the law firm, who also currently represents the spouse’s law firm, appears before the court, the committee said.“However, the committee believes that after the representation is completed, there is no ethical duty for the court to disqualify itself pursuant to Canon 3E under the facts and circumstances of this inquiry, unless the judge believes that the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned,” the panel said. “Although disqualification may not be ethically mandated, disqualification would be appropriate if a party filed a legally sufficient motion for disqualification pursuant to Rule 2.160, Florida Rules of Judicial Administration. If the motion is legally sufficient, the court has no discretion and must grant the motion.”The Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee is expressly charged with rendering advisory opinions interpreting the application of the Code of Judicial Conduct to specific circumstances confronting or affecting a judge or judicial candidate. Its opinions are advisory, and conduct that is consistent with an opinion may be evidence of good faith on the part of the judge, but the Judicial Qualifications Commission is not bound by the committee’s interpretive opinions.The full text of the committee’s opinions is available on the Supreme Court’s website by clicking here.last_img read more

Continue reading »