Thursday, October 10, 2013
Online Ethics Course for Judicial Candidates Unveiled
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The state’s mandatory ethics course for judges and lawyers who are candidates in judicial elections is now online, the Administrative Office of the Courts said yesterday.
Candidates must take the course within 60 days of filing for office, creating a campaign committee, or receiving a campaign contribution, the AOC said. It credited a working group of justices, judges, and lawyers with devising the course, which is required by a rule adopted by the Supreme Court last year on the recommendation of the Commission on Impartial Courts.
The rule, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye said in a statement, was designed “to promote and enhance public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary and to provide guidance on the ethical obligations and responsibilities of those running for judicial office.”
The chair of the working group was Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Paul A. Bacigalupo, a former State Bar Court judge who reached the Superior Court in a contested election. He was quoted in the AOC’s release as saying:
“The course illustrates how judicial campaigns are fundamentally different from political races. For example, judicial candidates may be disciplined by the Commission for Judicial Performance for failing to adequately supervise campaign staff or disclose campaign contributions.”
No examples were cited, but a Santa Barbara Superior Court judge, Diana R. Hall, was removed from office by the CJP in 2006, based in part on findings that she had concealed the true source of a campaign donation.
He noted that the Commission on Impartial Courts “rightly pointed out that California has one of the best judicial selection systems in the country,” while acknowledging that “it could always use improvement,” hence the recommendation for a mandatory ethics course.
Copyright 2013, Metropolitan News Company