THE STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
SUPREME COURT OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
O R D E R
Pursuant to the supreme court's constitutional and statutory authority, the Supreme Court of New Hampshire approves, effective September 1, 2001, the adoption of Supreme Court Rule 38-A as set forth in Appendix A.
May 25, 2001
Howard J. Zibel, Clerk
Supreme Court of New Hampshire
Adopt Supreme Court Rule 38-A as follows:
RULE 38-A. ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON JUDICIAL ETHICS
(1) Authority and purpose. Pursuant to the supreme courts constitutional and statutory authority, there is hereby established an advisory committee on judicial ethics. The purpose of the committee is to provide guidance to judges about compliance with rules of court and statutes relating to the ethical and professional conduct of judges.
(2) Membership of Committee; Terms; Chair; Quorum. The committee shall consist of five persons, appointed by the supreme court, who are qualified to render advice on judicial ethics, including at least three judges or retired judges. No justice currently serving on the supreme court shall be a member of the committee. The members of the committee shall serve without compensation but shall be reimbursed for necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their official duties.
When the committee is first appointed, two members shall be appointed to three-year terms, two members shall be appointed to two-year terms, and one member shall be appointed to a one-year term. On the expiration of the term of office of a member, a successor shall be appointed to a term of three years. Members may be reappointed to the committee, but no member shall be appointed to more than two successive full terms.
The committee shall select one of its members to serve as chair of the committee, and another to serve as vice-chair. A quorum shall consist of three members. The court shall designate a person to serve as the secretary and administrative support to the committee.
(3) Duties and Jurisdiction.
(a) The committee shall render advisory opinions with respect to the interpretation of rules of court and statutes relating to the ethical and professional conduct of judges. Any person whose conduct is subject to the Code of Judicial Conduct may request an advisory opinion about the propriety of his or her proposed conduct.
(b) The committee shall not render opinions regarding the proposed conduct of someone other than the person submitting the request, except that the committee may respond to a request from a judge about a person subject to the judges direction and control or over whom the judge has supervisory responsibilities, or from a judge about the judges relatives.
(c) The committee shall only issue opinions that address contemplated or proposed future conduct and shall not issue opinions addressing past or current conduct unless the past or current conduct relates to future conduct or is continuing. The committee shall not issue an opinion in response to a request when the facts are known to be the subject of past or pending litigation or disciplinary investigation or proceedings.
(d) The committee may, in its discretion, decline to respond to a request for opinion if it determines that a response would be inappropriate or would not aid the judge, benefit the judiciary as a whole, or serve the public interest.
(e) The committee shall not issue an advisory opinion that interprets any statute, rule or regulation that does not relate to judicial ethics.
(4) Procedure and Opinions.
(a) By the concurrence of a majority of its members and subject to the approval of the court, the committee may adopt rules of procedure relating to requests for advisory opinions and the issuance of opinions.
(b) The committee may render written opinions only by an affirmative vote of at least three members.
(c) All opinions shall be advisory only, and no opinion shall be binding on the judicial conduct committee in the exercise of its judicial discipline responsibilities. However, the judicial conduct committee and the supreme court, may, in their discretion, consider compliance with an advisory opinion by the requesting individual to be evidence of a good faith effort to comply with the Code of Judicial Conduct, provided that compliance with an opinion issued to one judge shall not be considered evidence of good faith of another judge unless the underlying facts are substantially the same.
(d) The committee may publish its opinions but the name of the judge requesting the opinion and any other identifying information shall not be included in a published opinion unless the judge consents to such inclusion.
(5) Report. In January of each year, the committee shall submit to the court a report of its activities together with any recommendations.