Friday, October 5, 2018
Ethics Committee Cites Restrictions on Reporting Attorney Misconduct to P.J.
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A Court of Appeal administrative presiding justice may not inform a superior court presiding judge of misconduct by a superior court research attorney if the case in which that attorney was involved has not been finally resolved, the California Supreme Court’s Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions declared yesterday.
The opinion summarizes oral advice given to an administrative presiding justice (“APJ”), not identifying which one.
The California Supreme Court has denied review in the case, the opinion notes, but says that when the request for advice was made, time remained for seeking a writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court.
“The committee advises that until the matter is no longer pending within the meaning of the Code of Judicial Ethics, the APJ may not contact the presiding judge,” the opinion says, explaining:
“Such contact would be an impermissible ex parte communication regarding a pending matter.”
An APJ is under a duty to take “appropriate corrective action” when he or she has personal knowledge of attorney’s violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct, which ordinarily would include speaking with the attorney or conducting the presiding judge, the opinion says, but adds:
“In this instance, the committee advises that the APJ could report the misconduct to the State Bar. which is the authority with responsibility for initiation of an attorney disciplinary proceeding. During the time that a party may file a writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court in the matter, direct communication with the superior court research attorney or the presiding judge constitutes impermissible ex parte communication.”
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