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STATE OF CALIFORNIA
CALIFORNIA LAW REVISION COMMISSION
ETHICAL STANDARDS FOR ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGES
Summary of Tentative Recommendation
This recommendation proposes to adapt the California Code of Judicial
Ethics (1996) to govern the hearing and nonhearing conduct of state
administrative law judges. The ethical standards would apply in all
proceedings conducted by state administrative law judges, including
state adjudicative proceedings that are otherwise exempt from the
Administrative Procedure Act. State hearing officers other than
administrative law judges would not be covered by the new ethical
standards, but general statutes governing conduct of state employees
would continue to apply to them. A violation of the new ethical
standards would be grounds for disciplinary action against the
administrative law judge.
ETHICAL STANDARDS FOR ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGES
California has led the nation in developing a corps of professional
administrative law judges to conduct state administrative adjudication
proceedings. California's landmark 1945 Administrative Procedure Act
included a central panel of hearing officers, designed to provide
competent, professional hearing services for a variety of state
agencies.1 In addition, major state agencies that conduct their own
administrative hearings have developed in-house divisions of
administrative law judges devoted to the adjudication function.2
It is important for the integrity of the state's administrative
adjudication system that its administrative law judges adhere to high
ethical standards of conduct. Administrative law judges, like all other
state employees, are currently subject to disciplinary action on such
* Inexcusable neglect of duty
* Discourteous treatment of the public or other employees
* Engaging in an employment, activity, or enterprise that is
inconsistent, incompatible, or in conflict with the duties of the
* Unlawful discrimination
* Other failure of good behavior
However, these grounds for disciplinary action are not well-adapted to
the circumstances of adjudicative proceedings and administrative law
At least one body of California hearing officers is expressly subject to
an adjudicative code of ethics. Workers' Compensation Referees must
subscribe to the California Code of Judicial Conduct and may not
otherwise, directly or indirectly, engage in conduct contrary to that
code.4 The canons of the California Code of Judicial Conduct admonish a
judge to uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary, to
avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all of the
judge's activities, to perform the duties of judicial office impartially
and diligently, to conduct the judge's quasi-judicial and other extra-
judicial actives to minimize the risk of conflict with judicial
obligations, and to refrain from inappropriate activity.5
Some of the provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct are not suited to
the circumstances of administrative adjudication. Efforts have been made
at the national level to adapt judicial codes to govern the conduct of
administrative law judges and provide guidance to them in establishing
and maintaining high standards of judicial and personal conduct. These
include the American Bar Association's Model Codes of Judicial Conduct
for Federal Administrative Law Judges and State Administrative Law
Judges, the National Association of Administrative Law Judges' Model
Code of Judicial Conduct for State Administrative Law Judges, and the
Model Code of Judicial Conduct for State Central Panel Administrative
To help maintain the competence and integrity of California's system of
administrative adjudication, the Law Revision Commission recommends that
California adopt ethical standards for administrative law judges.
Although national model codes are available, the Commission recommends
that the California standards be based on the new California Code of
Judicial Ethics, promulgated by the California Supreme Court effective
January 15, 1996.6
The California Code of Judicial Ethics is sanctioned by Article VI,
Section 18 of the California Constitution. It replaces the California
Code of Judicial Conduct, and has the force of law. By adapting the
judicial code to the circumstances of administrative adjudication, we
can ensure that the same ethical standards will apply throughout state
adjudication, both judicial and administrative. Moreover, uniform
judicial and administrative ethical standards will enable each system to
benefit from the other's experience under it.
The California Code of Judicial Ethics, with the exception of the
following provisions, should apply to state administrative law judges:
* Canon 3B(7) provides rules for ex parte communications; the
Administrative Procedure Act already covers the matter in some detail.7
* Canon 3B(10) relates to juries, which are not used in administrative
* Canon 4C includes a provision that prohibits service by a judge in a
position that constitutes a public office within the meaning of Article
VI, Section 17 of the California Constitution; but an administrative law
judge is an employee of the executive branch, not the judicial branch.
* Canons 4F and 4G prohibit private employment in alternative dispute
resolution or the practice of law; these matters are the subject of each
employing agency's incompatible activity rules adopted pursuant to
Government Code Section 19990.
* Canon 5 contains provisions concerning political activities for the
elective office of a judge; these are not relevant to administrative law
* Canon 6 -- enforcement of and compliance with the code of ethics --
requires adaptation to executive branch as opposed to judicial branch
implementation and enforcement.
Violation of the ethical standards should be grounds for disciplinary
action against an offending administrative law judge. This is consistent
with existing law, which provides that 'failure of good behavior either
during or outside of duty hours which is of such a nature that it causes
discredit to the appointing authority or the person's employment' is
grounds for discipline of a state employee.8 The Administrative
Adjudication Code of Ethics in effect defines 'failure of good behavior'
for administrative law judges.
The Law Revision Commission would not apply the ethical standards to a
presiding officer other than an administrative law judge, at present.
Application of the standards to other hearing personnel is problematic,
since the presiding officer may be part-time or a lay hearing officer,
or even the agency head.9 But general principles of appropriate conduct
would still apply to non-administrative law judge hearing personnel.10
The administrative adjudication provisions of the Administrative
Procedure Act do not govern certain state agency hearings.11
Nonetheless, the proposed Administrative Adjudication Code of Ethics
should apply to administrative law judges who preside in these hearings.
The ethical integrity of a state administrative law judge is independent
of the details of the particular hearing procedure the judge follows.
An act to add Article 16 (commencing with Section 11475.10) to Chapter
4.5 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code, and to amend
Section 123.6 of the Labor Code, relating to ethical standards of
presiding officers in administrative adjudication by state agencies.
Gov't Code Sections 11475.10-11475.50 (added). Administrative
Adjudication Code of Ethics
SECTION 1. Article 16 (commencing with Section 11475.10) is added to
Chapter 4.5 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code, to read:
Article 16. Administrative Adjudication Code of Ethics
Section 11475.10. Application of Code of Judicial Ethics
11475.10. (a) Except as otherwise provided in this article, the Code of
Judicial Ethics adopted by the Supreme Court pursuant to subdivision (m)
of Section 18 of Article VI of the Constitution for the conduct of
judges governs the hearing and nonhearing conduct of the presiding
officer in an adjudicative proceeding conducted by a state agency.
(b) This article applies notwithstanding a general provision that this
chapter does not apply to some or all of a state agency's adjudicative
(c) This article does not apply to a presiding officer other than an
administrative law judge.
Comment. Subdivision (a) of Section 11475.10 incorporates the Code of
Judicial Ethics for presiding officers in administrative adjudication
proceedings. The Code of Judicial Ethics adopted by the Supreme Code is
effective January 15, 1996. The incorporation by reference includes
subsequent amendments and additions to the Code. Section 9.
Under subdivision (b), the Administrative Adjudication Code of Ethics
applies to the presiding officer in a proceeding that might otherwise be
statutorily exempt from this chapter. See, e.g., Section 15609.5 (State
Board of Equalization); Pub. Util. Code Section 1701 (Public Utilities
Under subdivision (c), the Administrative Adjudication Code of Ethics
applies only to administrative law judges. It does not apply to agency
heads or hearing officers who preside in an administrative adjudication
but who are not administrative law judges. However, other ethical
considerations apply to the hearing and nonhearing conduct of state
agency presiding officers. See, e.g., Section 19572 (cause for
discipline). Nothing in this section precludes an agency from making the
Administrative Adjudication Code of Ethics applicable to its presiding
officers by regulation where this article would not otherwise apply. See
Section 11410.40 (election to apply administrative adjudication
provisions); see also Lab. Code Section 123.6 (workers' compensation
Section 11475.20. Terminology
11475.20. For the purpose of this article, the following terms used in
the Code of Judicial Ethics have the meanings provided in this section:
(a) 'Appeal' means administrative review.
(b) 'Court' means the agency conducting an adjudicative proceeding.
(c) 'Judge' means the presiding officer in an adjudicative proceeding;
related terms, including 'judicial', 'judiciary', and 'justice', mean
comparable concepts in administrative adjudication.
(d) 'Law' includes regulation and precedent decision.
Comment. Section 11475.20 provides a general guide to conversion of
terminology in the Code of Judicial Ethics for application to
administrative adjudication. It is intended to be applied in a manner to
effectuate that general purpose without requiring strict or
grammatically precise rigidity in the conversion. Likewise, terms not
specified in this section should be converted in an appropriate manner
to effectuate the general intent of this statute to apply the Code of
Judicial Ethics to the circumstances of administrative adjudication.
Section 11475.30. Provisions of Code excepted from application
11475.30. The following provisions of the Code of Judicial Ethics do not
apply under this article:
(a) Canon 3B(7), to the extent it relates to ex parte communications.
(b) Canon 3B(10).
(c) Canon 4C, to the extent it prohibits service in a position that
constitutes a public office within the meaning of Article VI, Section 17
of the Constitution.
(d) Canons 4F and 4G.
(e) Canon 5.
(f) Canon 6.
Comment. Subdivision (a) of Section 11475.30 excepts the portion of
Canon 3B(7) relating to ex parte communications. It reflects the fact
that special provisions, and not the Code of Judicial Ethics, govern ex
parte communications in administrative adjudication. See, e.g., Article
7 (commencing with Section 11430.10).
Subdivision (b) excepts Canon 3B(10), relating to juries. It reflects
the fact that juries are not used in administrative adjudication.
Subdivision (c) excepts the portion of Canon 4C that prohibits service
by a judge in a position that constitutes a public office within the
meaning of California Constitution, Article VI, Section 17. The
presiding officer in an administrative adjudication proceeding is an
executive branch, not a judicial branch, employee.
Subdivision (d) excepts Canons 4F and 4G, relating to private employment
in alternative dispute resolution or the practice of law. These matters
are the subject of the employing agency's incompatible activity
statement pursuant to Section 19990.
Subdivision (e) excepts Canon 5, relating to political activities. It
reflects the fact that the presiding officer in administrative
adjudication is not an elective office.
Subdivision (f) excepts Canon 6, which is superseded by Sections
11475.40 (enforcement) and 11475.50 (compliance).
Section 11475.40. Enforcement
11475.40. The presiding officer in an adjudicative proceeding shall
comply with the applicable provisions of the Code of Judicial Ethics.
Comment. Section 11475.40 supersedes Canon 6A of the Code of Judicial
Ethics. The compliance requirement is not precatory in administrative
adjudication, but is mandatory.
Under Section 19572, a violation of an applicable provision of the Code
of Judicial Ethics is grounds for disciplinary action by the employing
agency against a presiding officer in an adjudicative proceeding.
Appropriate discipline is the responsibility of the agency that employs
the presiding officer. Thus if an administrative law judge employed by
the Office of Administrative Hearings violates the code of ethics in a
hearing conducted for another agency, the Office of Administrative
Hearings is the disciplining entity, and not the other agency. An agency
may apply appropriate disciplinary procedures. See, e.g., 8 Cal. Code
Regs. Sections 9720.1-9723 (enforcement of ethical standards of workers'
A violation of the code of ethics by the presiding officer is not per se
grounds for disqualification, or reversal of a decision, of the
presiding officer. But the violation may be indicative of the presiding
officer's violation of other procedural requirements. See, e.g., Section
11425.40 (disqualification of presiding officer for bias, prejudice, or
Section 11475.50. Compliance
11475.50. (a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), a person to whom
this article becomes applicable shall comply immediately with all
applicable provisions of the Code of Judicial Ethics.
(b) A person to whom this article becomes applicable shall comply with
Canon 4D(2) of the Code of Judicial Ethics as soon as reasonably
possible and shall do so in any event within a period of one year after
the article becomes applicable.
Comment. Section 11475.50 supersedes Canon 6F of the Code of Judicial
Lab. Code Section 123.6 (amended). Workers' compensation referees
SEC. 2. Section 123.6 of the Labor Code is amended to read:
123.6. (a) All workers' compensation referees and settlement conference
referees employed by the administrative director shall subscribe to the
California Code of Judicial Conduct adopted by the Conference of
California Judges Administrative Adjudication Code of Ethics, Article 16
(commencing with Section 11475.10) of Chapter 4.5 of Division 3 of Title
2 of the Government Code, and shall not otherwise, directly or
indirectly, engage in conduct contrary to that code.
The administrative director shall adopt regulations to enforce this
section. To the extent possible, the rules shall be consistent with the
procedures established by the Commission on Judicial Performance for
regulating the activities of state judges, and, to the extent possible,
with the gift, honoraria, and travel restrictions on legislators
contained in the Political Reform Act of 1974.
(b) Honoraria or travel allowed by the administrative director or
otherwise not prohibited by this section in connection with any public
or private conference, convention, meeting, social event, or like
gathering, the cost of which is significantly paid for by attorneys who
practice before the board, may not be accepted unless the administrative
director has provided prior approval in writing to the workers'
compensation referee allowing him or her to accept those payments.
Comment. Section 123.6 is amended to reflect the fact that the
California Code of Judicial Conduct adopted by the Conference of
California Judges is superseded by the Code of Judicial Ethics adopted
by the Supreme Court pursuant to subdivision (m) of Section 18 of
Article VI of the Constitution. The Code of Judicial Ethics is adapted
for the presiding officer in administrative adjudication by Government
Code Sections 11475.10-11475.50 (administrative adjudication code of
The reference in subdivision (a) to settlement conference referees is
deleted as obsolete; statutory authority for this classification no
CALIFORNIA CODE OF JUDICIAL ETHICS
Adopted by the Supreme Court of California
effective January 15, 1996
'Appropriate authority' denotes the authority with responsibility for
initiation of the disciplinary process with respect to a violation to be
'Candidate.' A candidate is a person seeking election for or retention
of judicial office by election. A person becomes a candidate for
judicial office as soon as he or she makes a public announcement of
candidacy, declares or files as a candidate with the election authority,
or authorizes solicitation or acceptance of contributions or support.
The term 'candidate' has the same meaning when applied to a judge
seeking election to nonjudicial office, unless on leave of absence.
'Court personnel' does not include the lawyers in a proceeding before a
'Fiduciary' includes such relationships as executor, administrator,
trustee, and guardian.
'Law' denotes court rules as well as statutes, constitutional
provisions, and decisional law.
'Member of the judge's family' denotes a spouse, child, grandchild,
parent, grandparent, or other relative or person with whom the judge
maintains a close familial relationship.
'Member of the judge's family residing in the judge's household' denotes
a spouse and those persons who reside in the judge's household who are
relatives of the judge including relatives by marriage, or persons with
whom the judge maintains a close familial relationship.
'Nonprofit youth organization' is any nonprofit corporation or
association not organized for the private gain of any person, and one
whose purposes are irrevocably dedicated to benefiting and serving the
interests of minors, and which maintains its nonprofit status in
accordance with applicable state and federal tax laws.
'Nonpublic information' denotes information that, by law, is not
available to the public. Nonpublic information may include but is not
limited to: information that is sealed by statute or court order,
impounded or communicated in camera; and information offered in grand
jury proceedings, presentencing reports, dependency cases, or
'Political organization' denotes a political party, political action
committee, or other group, the principal purpose of which is to further
the election or appointment of candidates to nonjudicial office.
'Temporary Judge.' A temporary judge is an active or inactive member of
the bar who serves or expects to serve as a judge once, sporadically, or
regularly on a part-time basis under a separate court appointment for
each period of service or for each case heard.
'Require.' Any Canon prescribing that a judge 'require' certain conduct
of others means that a judge is to exercise reasonable direction and
control over the conduct of those persons subject to the judge's
direction and control.
A Judge Shall Uphold The Integrity And Independence Of The Judiciary
An independent and honorable judiciary is indispensable to justice in
our society. A judge should participate in establishing, maintaining,
and enforcing high standards of conduct, and shall personally observe
those standards so that the integrity and independence of the judiciary
will be preserved. The provisions of this Code are to be construed and
applied to further that objective. A judicial decision or administrative
act later determined to be incorrect legally, is not itself a violation
of this Code.
A Judge Shall Avoid Impropriety And The Appearance Of Impropriety In All
Of The Judge's Activities
A. Promoting Public Confidence. A judge shall respect and comply with
the law and shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public
confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.
B. Use of the Prestige of Judicial Office
(1) A judge shall not allow family, social, political, or other relation
ships to influence the judge's judicial conduct or judgment, nor shall a
judge convey or permit others to convey the impression that any
individual is in a special position to influence the judge.
(2) A judge shall not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance
the pecuniary or personal interests of the judge or others; nor shall a
judge testify voluntarily as a character witness. A judge shall not
initiate communications with a sentencing judge or a probation or
corrections officer, but may provide them with information for the
record in response to an official request. A judge may initiate
communications with a probation or corrections officer concerning a
member of the judge's family, provided the judge is not identified as a
judge in the communication.
(3) A judge may respond to judicial selection inquiries, provide
recommendations, including a general character reference, relating to
the evaluation of persons being considered for a judgeship, and
otherwise participate in the process of judicial selection.
(4) A judge shall not use the judicial title in any written
communication intended to advance the personal or pecuniary interest of
the judge. A judge may serve as a reference or provide a letter of
recommendation only if based on the judge's personal knowledge of the
individual. These written communications may include the judge's title
and be written on stationery that uses the judicial title.
C. Membership in Organizations. A judge shall not hold membership in any
organization that practices invidious discrimination on the basis of
race, sex, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation.
This Canon does not apply to membership in a religious organization or
an official military organization of the United States. So long as
membership does not violate Canon 4A, this Canon does not bar membership
in a nonprofit youth organization.
A Judge Shall Perform The Duties Of Judicial Office Impartially And
A. Judicial Duties in General. All of the judicial duties prescribed by
law shall take precedence over all other activities of every judge. In
the performance of these duties, the following standards apply.
B. Adjudicative Responsibilities
(1) A judge shall hear and decide all matters assigned to the judge
except those in which he or she is disqualified.
(2) A judge shall be faithful to the law regardless of partisan
interests, public clamor, or fear of criticism, and shall maintain
professional competence in the law.
(3) A judge shall require order and decorum in proceedings before the
(4) A judge shall be patient, dignified, and courteous to litigants.
jurors, witnesses, lawyers, and others with whom the judge deals in an
official capacity, and shall require similar conduct of lawyers and of
all court staff and personnel under the judge's direction and control.
(5) A judge shall perform judicial duties without bias or prejudice. A
judge shall not, in the performance of judicial duties, by words or
conduct, manifest bias or prejudice, including but not limited to bias
or prejudice based upon race, sex, religion, national origin,
disability, age, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status.
(6) A judge shall require lawyers in proceedings before the judge to
refrain from manifesting, by words or conduct, bias or prejudice based
upon race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual
orientation, or socioeconomic status, against parties, witnesses.
counsel, or others. This Canon does not preclude legitimate advocacy
when race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual
orientation, socioeconomic status, or other similar factors, are issues
in the proceeding.
(7) A judge shall accord to every person who has a legal interest in a
proceeding, or that person's lawyer, full right to be heard according to
law. A judge shall not initiate, permit, or consider ex parte
communications, or consider other communications made to the judge
outside the presence of the parties concerning a pending or impending
proceeding, except as follows:
(a) A judge may obtain the advice of a disinterested expert on the law
applicable to a proceeding before the judge if the judge gives notice to
the parties of the person consulted and the substance of the advice, and
affords the parties reasonable opportunity to respond.
(b) A judge may consult with court personnel whose function is to aid
the judge in carrying out the judge's adjudicative responsibilities or
with other judges.
(c) A judge may, with the consent of the parties, confer separately with
the parties and their lawyers in an effort to mediate or settle matters
pending before the judge.
(d) A judge may initiate ex parte communications, where circumstances
require, for scheduling, administrative purposes, or emergencies that do
not deal with substantive matters provided:
(i) the judge reasonably believes that no party will gain a procedural
or tactical advantage as a result of the ex parte communication, and
(ii) the judge makes provision promptly to notify all other parties of
the substance of the ex parte communication and allows an opportunity to
(e) A judge may initiate or consider any ex parte communication when
expressly authorized by law to do so.
(8) A judge shall dispose of all judicial matters fairly, promptly, and
(9) A judge shall not make any public comment about a pending or
impending proceeding in any court, and shall not make any nonpublic
comment that might substantially interfere with a fair trial or hearing.
The judge shall require similar abstention on the part of court
personnel subject to the judge's direction and control. This Canon does
not prohibit judges from making statements in the course of their
official duties or from explaining for public information the procedures
of the court, and does not apply to proceedings in which the judge is a
litigant in a personal capacity.
(10) A judge shall not commend or criticize jurors for their verdict
other than in a court order or opinion in a proceeding, but may express
appreciation to jurors for their service to the judicial system and the
(11) A judge shall not disclose or use, for any purpose unrelated to
judicial duties, nonpublic information acquired in a judicial capacity.
C. Administrative Responsibilities
(1) A judge shall diligently discharge the judge's administrative
responsibilities without bias or prejudice and maintain professional
competence in judicial administration, and shall cooperate with other
judges and court officials in the administration of court business.
(2) A judge shall require staff and court personnel under the judge's
direction and control to observe appropriate standards of conduct and to
refrain from manifesting bias or prejudice based upon race, sex,
religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, or
socioeconomic status in the performance of their official duties.
(3) A judge with supervisory authority for the judicial performance of
other judges shall take reasonable measures to assure the prompt
disposition of matters before them and the proper performance of their
other judicial responsibilities.
(4) A judge shall not make unnecessary court appointments. A judge shall
exercise the power of appointment impartially and on the basis of merit.
A judge shall avoid nepotism and favoritism. A judge shall not approve
compensation of appointees above the reasonable value of services
D. Disciplinary Responsibilities
(1) Whenever a judge has reliable information that another judge has
violated any provision of the Code of Judicial Ethics, the judge shall
take or initiate appropriate corrective action, which may include
reporting the violation to the appropriate authority.
(2) Whenever a judge has personal knowledge that a lawyer has violated
any provision of the Rules of Professional Conduct, the judge shall take
appropriate corrective action.
E. Disqualification. A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in any
proceeding in which disqualification is required by law. In all trial
court proceedings, a judge shall 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 actual basis for disqualification.
A Judge Shall So Conduct The Judge's Quasi-Judicial And Extrajudicial
Activities As To Minimize The Risk Of Conflict With Judicial Obligations
A. Extrajudicial Activities in General. A judge shall conduct all of the
judge's extrajudicial activities so that they do not:
(1) cast reasonable doubt on the judge's capacity to act impartially;
(2) demean the judicial office; or
(3) interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties.
B. Quasi-judicial and Avocational Activities. A judge may speak, write,
lecture, teach, and participate in activities concerning legal and
nonlegal subject matters, subject to the requirements of this Code.
C. Governmental, Civic, or Charitable Activities
(1) A judge shall not appear at a public hearing or officially consult
with an executive or legislative body or public official except on
matters concerning the law, the legal system, the administration of
justice, or in matters involving the judge's private economic or
(2) A judge shall not accept appointment to a governmental committee or
commission or other governmental position that is concerned with issues
of fact or policy on matters other than the improvement of the law, the
legal system, or the administration of justice. A judge may, however,
serve in the military reserve or represent a national, state, or local
government on ceremonial occasions or in connection with historical,
educational, or cultural activities.
(3) Subject to the following limitations and the other requirements of
(a) a judge may serve as an officer, director, trustee, or nonlegal
advisor of an organization or governmental agency devoted to the
improvement of the law, the legal system, or the administration of
justice provided that such position does not constitute a public office
within the meaning of the California Constitution, article VI, section
(b) a judge may serve as an officer, director, trustee, or nonlegal
advisor of an educational, religious, charitable, fraternal, or civic
organization not conducted for profit.
(c) a judge shall not serve as an officer, director, trustee, or
nonlegal advisor if it is likely that the organization
(i) will be engaged in judicial proceedings that would ordinarily come
before the judge, or
(ii) will be engaged frequently in adversary proceedings in the court of
which the judge is a member or in any court subject to the appellate
jurisdiction of the court of which the judge is a member.
(d) a judge as an officer, director, trustee. or nonlegal advisor, or as
a member or otherwise
(i) may assist such an organization in planning fundraising and may
participate in the management and investment of the organization's
funds, but shall not personally participate in the solicitation of funds
or other fund-raising activities, except that a judge may privately
solicit funds for such an organization from other judges (excluding
court commissioners, referees, retired judges, and temporary judges);
(ii) may make recommendations to public and private fund granting
organizations on projects and programs concerning the law, the legal
system, or the administration of justice;
(iii) shall not personally participate in membership solicitation if the
solicitation might reasonably be perceived as coercive or if the
membership solicitation is essentially a fund-raising mechanism, except
as permitted in Canon 4C(3)(d)(i);
(iv) shall not permit the use of the prestige of his or her judicial
office for fundraising or membership solicitation but may be a speaker,
guest of honor, or recipient of an award for public or charitable
service provided the judge does not personally solicit funds and
complies with Canon 4A(1), (2), and (3).
D. Financial Activities
(1) A judge shall not engage in financial and business dealings that
(a) may reasonably be perceived to exploit the judge's judicial
(b) involve the judge in frequent transactions or continuing business
relationships with lawyers or other persons likely to appear before the
court on which the judge serves.
(2) A judge may, subject to the requirements of this Code, hold and
manage investments of the judge and members of the judge's family,
including real estate, and engage in other remunerative activities. A
judge shall not participate in, nor permit the judge's name to be used
in connection with, any business venture or commercial advertising that
indicates the judge's title or affiliation with the judiciary or
otherwise lend the power or prestige of his or her office to promote a
business or any commercial venture.
(3) A judge shall not serve as an officer, director, manager, or
employee of a business affected with a public interest, including,
without limitation, a financial institution, insurance company, or
(4) A judge shall manage personal investments and financial activities
so as to minimize the necessity for disqualification. As soon as
reasonably possible, a judge shall divest himself or herself of
investments and other financial interests that would require frequent
(5) Under no circumstance shall a judge accept a gift, bequest, favor,
or loan if the donor or lender is a party whose interests have come or
are reasonably likely to come before the judge. The judge shall
discourage members of the judge's family residing in the judge's
household from accepting similar benefits from parties who have come or
are reasonably likely to come before the judge.
(6) A judge shall not accept and shall discourage members of the judge's
family residing in the judge's household from accepting a gift, bequest,
favor, or loan from anyone except as hereinafter provided:
(a) any gift incidental to a public testimonial, books, tapes, and other
resource materials supplied by publishers on a complimentary basis for
official use, or an invitation to the judge and the judge's spouse or
guest to attend a bar-related function or an activity devoted to the
improvement of the law, the legal system, or the administration of
(b) advances or reimbursement for the reasonable cost of travel.
transportation, lodging, and subsistence which is directly related to
participation in any judicial, educational, civic, or governmental
program, bar-related function or activity, devoted to the improvement of
the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice;
(c) a gift, award, or benefit incident to the business, profession, or
other separate activity of a spouse or other member of the judge's
family residing in the judge's household, including gifts, awards, and
benefits for the use of both the spouse or other family member and the
judge, provided the gift, award, or benefit could not reason ably be
perceived as intended to influence the judge in the performance of
(d) ordinary social hospitality;
(e) a gift for a special occasion from a relative or friend. if the gift
is fairly commensurate with the occasion and the relationship;
(f) a gift, bequest. favor, or loan from a relative or close personal
friend whose appearance or interest in a case would in any event require
disqualification under Canon 3E;
(g) a loan in the regular course of business on the same terms generally
available to persons who are not judges;
(h) a scholarship or fellowship awarded on the same terms and based on
the same criteria applied to other applicants.
E. Fiduciary Activities
(1) A judge shall not serve as executor, administrator, or other
personal representative, trustee, guardian, attorney in fact, or other
fiduciary, except for the estate, trust, or person of a member of the
judge's family, and then only if such service will not interfere with
the proper performance of judicial duties.
(2) A judge shall not serve as a fiduciary if it is likely that the
judge as a fiduciary will be engaged in proceedings that would
ordinarily come before the judge, or if the estate, trust, or ward
becomes engaged in contested proceedings in the court on which the judge
serves or one under its appellate jurisdiction.
(3) The same restrictions on financial activities that apply to a judge
personally also apply to the judge while acting in a fiduciary capacity.
F. Service as Arbitrator or Mediator. A judge shall not act as an
arbitrator or mediator or otherwise perform judicial functions in a
private capacity unless expressly authorized by law.
G. Practice of Law. A judge shall not practice law.
H. Compensation and Reimbursement. A judge may receive compensation and
reimbursement of expenses as provided by law for the extrajudicial
activities permitted by this Code, if the source of such payments does
not give the appearance of influencing the judge's performance of
judicial duties or otherwise give the appearance of impropriety.
(1) Compensation shall not exceed a reasonable amount nor shall it
exceed what a person who is not a judge would receive for the same
(2) Expense reimbursement shall be limited to the actual cost of travel,
food, lodging, and other costs reasonably incurred by the judge and,
where appropriate to the occasion, by the judge's spouse or guest. Any
payment in excess of such an amount is compensation.
A Judge Or Judicial Candidate Shall Refrain
From Inappropriate Political Activity
Judges are entitled to entertain their personal views on political
questions. They are not required to surrender their rights or opinions
as citizens. They shall, however, avoid political activity which may
create the appearance of political bias or impropriety. Judicial
independence and impartiality should dictate the conduct of judges and
candidates for judicial office.
A. Political Organizations. Judges and candidates for judicial office
(1) Act as leaders or hold any office in a political organization;
(2) Make speeches for a political organization or candidate for
nonjudicial office or publicly endorse or publicly oppose a candidate
for nonjudicial office;
(3) Personally solicit funds for a political organization or nonjudicial
candidate; make contributions to a political party or political
organization or to a nonjudicial candidate in excess of five hundred
dollars in any calendar year per political party or political
organization or candidate, or in excess of an aggregate of one thousand
dollars in any calendar year for all political parties or political
organizations or nonjudicial candidates.
B. Conduct During Judicial Campaigns. A candidate for election or
appointment to judicial office shall not (1) make statements to the
electorate or the appointing authority that commit or appear to commit
the candidate with respect to cases, controversies, or issues that could
come before the courts, or (2) knowingly misrepresent the identity,
qualifications, present position, or any other fact concerning the
candidate or his or her opponent.
C. Speaking at Political Gatherings. Candidates for judicial office may
speak to political gatherings only on their own behalf or on behalf of
another candidate for judicial office.
D. Measures to Improve the Law. Except as otherwise permitted in this
Code, judges shall not engage in any political activity, other than in
relation to measures concerning the improvement of the law, the legal
system, or the administration of justice.
Compliance With The Code Of Judicial Ethics
A. Judges. Anyone who is an officer of the state judicial system and who
performs judicial functions, including, but not limited to, a
magistrate, court commissioner, referee, court-appointed arbitrator,
judge of the State Bar Court, temporary judge, or special master, is a
judge within the meaning of this Code. All judges shall comply with this
Code except as provided below.
B. Retired Judge Serving in the Assigned Judges Program. A retired judge
who has filed an application to serve on assignment, meets the
eligibility requirements set by the Chief Justice for service and has
received an acknowledgment of participation in the assigned judge
program, shall comply with all provisions of this Code, except for the
4C(2) - Appointment to governmental positions
4D(2) - Participation in business entities and managing investments
4E - Fiduciary activities
C. Retired Judge as Arbitrator or Mediator. A retired judge serving in
the Assigned Judges Program is not required to comply with Canon 4F of
this Code relating to serving as an arbitrator or mediator. or
performing judicial functions in a private capacity, except as otherwise
provided in the Standards and Guidelines for Judges Serving on
Assignment promulgated by the Chief Justice.
D. Temporary Judge, Referee, or Court-appointed Arbitrator. A temporary
judge, a person serving as a referee pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure
section 638 or 639, or a court-appointed arbitrator while actually
serving in any of these capacities shall comply with the following
provisions of this Code:
1 - Integrity and independence of the judiciary
2A, B, C - Public confidence, impartiality of the judiciary, and
membership in organizations
3A, B - Judicial duties in general
3C(1), (2), (4) - Administrative responsibilities
3D, E - Disciplinary responsibilities
4A, B - Extrajudicial activities in general
4C(3)(c)(i) - Service as an officer, director, trustee, or non-legal
4C(l) - Appearance at public hearings
4C(3)(d)(iii), (iv) - Use of judicial office for fundraising by officer,
director, trustee, or non-legal advisor
4D(1)(a) - Financial and business dealings that exploit the judicial
4D(5) - Gifts from those who have come or are reasonably likely to come
before the judge
5B, C - Statements by candidates for judicial office
Speeches at political gatherings by candidates for judicial office
A person who has been a temporary judge, referee. or court appointed
arbitrator shall not act as a lawyer in a proceeding in which he or she
has served as a judge or in any other proceeding related thereto except
as otherwise permitted by rule 3-310 of the Rules of' Professional
E. Judicial Candidate. A candidate for judicial office should comply
with the provisions of Canon 5.
F. Time for Compliance. A person to whom this Code becomes applicable
shall comply immediately with all provisions of this Code except Canons
4D(2) and 4F and shall comply with these Canons as soon as reasonably
possible and shall do so in any event within a period of one year.
1. For a description of the California central panel system and its
history, see Administrative Adjudication by State Agencies, 25 Cal. L.
Revision Comm'n Reports 25, 93-98 (1995).
2. The Law Revision Commission estimates that at least 95% of the
state's administrative law judges and hearing officers are employed by
the adjudicating agencies rather than the Office of Administrative
Hearings. Each of the following major adjudicative agencies employs a
greater number of administrative law judges or hearing officers than the
total number employed by the Office of Administrative Hearings: Board of
Prison Terms, Department of Industrial Relations, Department of Social
Services, Public Utilities Commission, Unemployment Insurance Appeals
Board, Workers' Compensation Appeals Board.
3. Gov't Code Section 19572.
4. Lab. Code Section 123.6.
5. California Judges Association, California Code of Judicial Conduct,
Canons 1-5 (1992).
6. A copy of the California Code of Judicial Ethics is attached to this
recommendation as an Appendix.
7. Gov't Code Sections 11430.10-11430.70 (operative July 1, 1997),
11513.5 (operative until July 1, 1997).
8. Gov't Code Section 19572(t).
9. Cf. Gov't Code Section 11405.80 ('presiding officer' defined),
operative July 1, 1997.
10. See discussion at note 3, supra.
11. See, e.g., Gov't Code Section 15609.5 (State Board of
Equalization), operative July 1, 1997; Pub. Util. Code Section 1701
(Public Utilities Commission), operative July 1, 1997.
Tentative Recommendation * February 22, 1996
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