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Feb. 26, 2008
Proposed Revisions to Conduct Rules for Judges Posted for Public Comment

A Supreme Court of Ohio panel today released proposed revisions to the Code of Judicial Conduct, which regulate the judicial and extrajudicial activities of judges. This is the first comprehensive review of the Code since the late 1990s.

The public will have until May 1 to submit comments on the draft before the 19-member Task Force on the Code of Judicial Conduct reconvenes in late spring to review public comments, revise the draft rules and prepare a final report for the Supreme Court. Once it considers the report, the Supreme Court will publish proposed rules for a second public comment period later this year.

“Updating conduct rules that govern the behavior of all judges should further bolster the public’s confidence in the impartiality, fairness and competence of the judiciary,” said Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer, who announced the formation of the Task Force in June. “The Judicial Canons represent the latest round of review that the Court has initiated to maintain and enhance professionalism throughout the legal profession.”

The proposed rules are based on the substantive revisions to the American Bar Association’s Model Code of Judicial Conduct that were adopted in February 2007 by the ABA’s House of Delegates. The review will make Ohio, which last updated its code in 1997, one of the first states to consider changes based on the model code.

A sampling of some of the more significant revisions contained in the draft Code include:

Unlike the Court’s adoption of the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct in August 2006 (effective Feb. 1, 2007), which represented a wholesale rewrite of the rules governing the professional conduct of lawyers, the proposed Code of Judicial Conduct has been updated to reflect issues that have emerged during the last 10 to 15 years. As such, the proposed rules contain provisions that allow judges to respond to the increasing number of self-represented litigants, encourage the bar to provide more pro bono legal services to low-income individuals and engage in efforts to promote public trust and confidence in the courts.

“By posting the result of our initial review and comparison of the recently revised ABA Model Code and the current Ohio Code of Judicial Conduct at this time, the Task Force hopes to generate comments from interested individuals and organizations to assist us in carrying out the mission given us by Chief Justice Moyer,” said Retired Judge Thomas Bryant, who serves as Chair of the Task Force.

Contact: Chris Davey at 614.387.9250.