The Tennessee Supreme Court has adopted a comprehensive revision to its ethics rules.
“Maintaining a high standard of judicial ethics is paramount to the public’s trust and confidence in the courts and the judges who preside over them,” Chief Justice Cornelia A. Clark said in a statement Tuesday.
The rules changes impacting the state’s judiciary most tangibly are in essence a restatement of earlier rules governing the political activities of judges, but with modifications. Judges and judicial candidates may continue to make contributions to political organizations — or to candidates for public office — as well attend or purchase tickets to dinners and other events sponsored by a political organization or a candidate for public office. The latter is a nuance not included in the first proposed rule changes and was included after input from the Tennessee Bar Association and others. Further, judges and judicial candidates are now prohibited from endorsing or opposing other candidates for public office.
Click here for the order issued by State Supreme Court Chief Justice Cornelia A. Clark, which includes the petition to amend Rule 10.
Other items decided by the court in its January 2012 session addressing rules of conduct changes are as follows:
• The court adopted a new provision regarding the disability and impairment of a judge or attorney. The rule instructs judges to take “appropriate action” should a judge have reasonable belief that another judge or attorney is impaired.
• The court adopted a rule setting out a new procedure for pursuing the recusal of a judge, and a new process for seeking an expedited appeal if a motion for recusal is denied.
The new guidelines for conduct, dubbed Rule 10, take effect July 1.