Date: August 22, 2001 Contact: Laura Kiernan
Public Information Officer
271-2646 x359

 

NEWS RELEASE

 

CONCORD—The New Hampshire Supreme Court has approved a modernized revision of the Code of Judicial Conduct that sets out detailed ethical standards and provides specific guidance to judges for maintaining those standards in their personal and professional life.

The updated code, which takes effect October 1, is largely based on the American Bar Association’s 1990 "Model Code of Judicial Conduct" which is the standard used by many court systems around the country. In developing the revised code, the justices also considered New Hampshire’s existing code of judicial conduct and recommendations made in January by the Supreme Court’s "Task Force for the Renewal of Judicial Conduct Procedures."

Chief Justice David A. Brock said the court’s adoption of the revised code is in keeping with its longstanding responsibility to oversee the conduct of judges. He said the updated rules recognize that the role of judges has changed since the Supreme Court first adopted the code in 1973.

"Judges are expected to be more active in court administration, in the legislature and in public education about the judicial system," Brock said. "The revised code gives judges clear guidelines to follow as they meet their responsibilities in the courtroom and in their communities and it provides reasonable standards for evaluating their conduct when complaints are filed," he added, speaking for the full court.

Efforts to revise the code began in 1993 with the court’s rules committee and included gathering comment from the public on proposed changes. The newly adopted code includes five "Canons," which set out broad standards for judicial conduct, followed by specific rules. The court has also adopted relevant portions of the ABA commentary on the Canons and rules, which uses detailed examples to explain their purpose and meaning.

The commentary notes that judges must expect to be "the subject of constant public scrutiny" and must be willing to accept restrictions on their behavior that ordinary citizens might find "burdensome."’

At the same time the revised code and commentary note that judges should not be "isolated" from their community and should be encouraged to participate in efforts to promote the fair administration of justice.

The revised code:

The revised Code of Judicial Conduct (Supreme Court Rule 38) and the ABA commentary are available at http://www.courts.state.nh.us/courts/supreme/orders/index.htm. For information on obtaining printed copies contact the Supreme Court clerk’s office at 603-271-2646.