Bisel Logo PA Judicial Discipline Handbook

First Edition

AUTHORS: SARAH A. STEERS, J.D. and JOEL FISHMAN, PH.D., M.L.S.

Published: September 2018 (1st Edition)
Library of Congress Control Number: 2018952497
ISBN: 978-1-7325640-0-8

1 VOLUME; PERFECT BOUND; PRICE: $119.00

Foreword

It's been a short 25 years since the 1993 amendment to our state charter created a new two-tiered system of judicial discipline, replacing the Judicial Inquiry and Review Board with two independent entities- the Judicial Conduct Board and the Court of Judicial Discipline. Dr. Joel Fishman and Sarah Steers have created the first compendium of Pennsylvania law and jurisprudence in this field. Their work is timely and fills a void.

The adjective "glacial" has been used to describe the rate of development of our jurisprudence in this field. Twenty-five years, for most areas of law, is but a blink of the eye. For most of these years, happily, only a few cases each year were filed and litigated against the judges and justices in our state judiciary. While this paucity of case filings contributes to the slow development of our jurisprudence, the system created by the 1993 constitutional amendment can certainly be said to be functioning as its drafters intended.

The opinions of the Court of Judicial Discipline and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania that are referenced in this volume serve multiple purposes. Not only do they dispose of cases, they also provide guidance to our judges on the contours of Pennsylvania's Code of Judicial Conduct and Rules Governing Standards of Conduct of Magisterial District Judges. The authors have also included chapters on recusal and ex parte communications, topics that have not seen significant recent attention in the context of judicial discipline.

Through his previous works, Dr. Fishman has shown a keen eye for addressing underdeveloped areas of the law and weaving them into a cohesive text. Here, too, the authors have thoughtfully assembled Pennsylvania's key legal provisions and case law on judicial discipline. For legal practitioners, judges, counsel for our Judicial Conduct Board, the appointed judges who serve terms on our Court of Judicial Discipline, and others, this volume will serve as a vital reference. I suspect it will become a mandatory compendium for those in the field.

Hon. David J. Barton



Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Historical Introduction and Sources

      1.1. Courts and Judges Pre-1968 Constitution

      1.2. Constitutional Change 1963-1968

      1.3. Court System Under the Constitution of 1968

      1.4. Article V, § 18 Under the Constitution of 1968

      1.5. Article V, § 18 Under the 1993 Amendment to the Constitution of 1968

      1.6. Relationship Between the Supreme Court and the Court of JudicialDiscipline

      1.7. The Code of Judicial Conduct—1990 Edition

      1.8. The Code of Judicial Conduct—2014 Edition

      1.9. Pennsylvania State Trial Court Conference Judicial Ethics Opinions

      1.10. Pennsylvania Rules of Standards Governing Magisterial District Judges

      1.11. Note on Sources

Chapter 2: The Judicial Conduct Board

      2.1. Constitutional Amendment of 1993

      2.2. The Board of Judicial Conduct

      2.3. Code of Conduct for Members of the Judicial Conduct Board

      2.4. Judicial Conduct Board Rules of Procedure

Chapter 3: The Court of Judicial Discipline

      3.1. Members of the Court

      3.2. Rules Governing the Judges’ Conduct

      3.3. Court Internal Operating Procedures

      3.4. Trial Procedures

      3.5. Mental or Physical Disability

      3.6. Other Relief

Chapter 4: Abuse of Judicial Authority

      4.1. Chapter Overview

      4.2. Influencing Criminal Charges

      4.3. Interference with the Rights of Parties

      4.4. Inappropriate Sentences and Settlements

      4.5. Abuse of Judicial Office for Gain

Chapter 5: Offensive or Biased Judicial Conduct

      5.1. Chapter Overview

      5.2. Rude and Inappropriate Behavior

      5.3. Racist Conduct

      5.4. Sexist Conduct

      5.5. Substance Abuse-Related Conduct

Chapter 6: Recusal

      6.1. Chapter Overview

      6.2. Pennsylvania Requirements for Recusal

      6.3. Actual or Perceived Impartiality

      6.4. Adjudicating Family Members

Chapter 7: Ex Parte Communications

      7.1. Chapter Overview

      7.2. Pennsylvania Rules

      7.3. Prohibited Interactions

Chapter 8: Administrative Management

      8.1. Chapter Overview

      8.2. Prompt Case Disposition

      8.3. Staff Management

      8.4. Fee Collection and Court Funds

      8.5. Abuse of Public Resources

      8.6. Engaging in Activity Prohibited by Law

Chapter 9: Financial and Business Dealings

      9.1. Chapter Overview

      9.2. Model and Pennsylvania Codes

      9.3. Perception of Quid Pro Quo

Chapter 10: Public Service and Volunteer Work

      10.1. Chapter Overview

      10.2. Civic Activities

      10.3. Charity and Community Involvement

Chapter 11: Limits to Judicial Conduct and Speech

      11.1. Chapter Overview

      11.2. Model and Pennsylvania Codes

      11.3. Prohibited Behavior and Conduct

      11.4. Disreputable or Objectionable Speech

Chapter 12: Candidate and Campaign Activities

      12.1. Chapter Overview

      12.2. Judicial Ethics Opinions

      12.3. Political Activity for Another

      12.4. Administrative Compliance

      12.5. Campaign Finance

Chapter 13: Criminal Activities

      13.1. Chapter Overview

      13.2. Constitutional Provisions

      13.3. Code of Judicial Conduct and Rules Governing Standards of Magisterial District Judges

      § 13.4. Justices of the Supreme Court

      13.5. “Kids-for-Cash” Scandal

      13.6. Philadelphia Traffic Court Ticket-fixing Cases

      13.7. Federal Convictions

      13.8. State Convictions

Chapter 14: Mental or Physical Impairment

      14.1. Chapter Overview

      14.2. Generally

      14.3. Stress


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