One More Year

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It could be said that the ABA Joint Commission to Evaluate the Model Code of Judicial Conduct is taking a continuance.

Initial expectations were that the commission would be able to submit proposed revisions to the model judicial code for consideration this year by the ABA’s policy-making House of Delegates.

But the commission, created in September 2003, is now planning to complete its redraft of the ABA code–which serves as the basis for most state judicial conduct rules–in time for consideration by the House in 2006, says chair Mark I. Harrison of Phoenix.

Harrison says he doesn’t want to rush the final product. “We’re contemplating a lot of fairly significant changes,” he says. “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

The commission was at work during the ABA Midyear Meeting in Salt Lake City, where it held its eighth public hearing to get feed­back on its proposed revisions to the model judi­cial code.

So far, most input has come from judges’ groups and professional responsibility organizations. But Harrison says the commis­sion still welcomes more feedback, especially from state and local bar groups, which so far have largely been silent on the commission’s preliminary proposals to revise the canons–which set forth standards for judicial conduct and the commentaries that discuss those standards in detail.

Harrison says the commission has largely finished its drafting of the canons themselves, including Canon 5, which covers political activity by judges, as well as candidates for judicial office. The proposed revisions to that canon, which the commission released shortly before February’s midyear meeting, would set different rules on political activity by sitting judges and candidates for judicial office.

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