Canon 1.1: Performing Court Duties
A court professional shall faithfully carry out all appropriately assigned duties striving at all times to perform the work diligently, efficiently, equitably, thoroughly, courteously, honestly, truthfully and with transparency.
A court professional shall carry out properly issued court orders and rules, not exceeding the court professional’s authority.
This canon promotes the professional values of diligence, trustworthiness, courtesy, respect, and accountability. It also upholds the institution of courts as independent, fair, and responsive to the public.
Appropriately Assigned Duties
This phrase encourages court professionals to dedicate themselves to official duties, avoiding the temptation to assist in personal tasks not related to the functions of a court. Likewise this canon, along with canon 1.6, discourages superiors from imposing upon subordinates to fulfill personal tasks.
There has been considerable discussion over the inclusion of the words “honestly” and “truthfully.” Some see honesty as including the concept of being completely forthcoming, not holding facts back. Others see the necessity of “protecting the truth” to protect judicial officers, court officials, and courts as an institution. Certainly we, as court professionals must be as honest and forthcoming as possible short of putting another person in jeopardy, or impugning the reputation of the courts.
As a hypothetical, a very opinionated citizen concerned over an emotional court case comes to you as a court professional demanding to see the judge who decided the matter. Do you tell that person that the judge is “in a meeting” even when that is not the case? What if you think this person might possibly be dangerous?
The public should always be able to clearly see how we as professionals arrive at decisions, regardless of whether or not they agree with that decision.
Section V (A) and (B) of the American Judicature Society’s 1989 Model Code of Conduct for Non–Judicial Court Employees [paraphrased] calls on court employees to perform official duties properly, to perform with diligence, to apply fulltime energy to the business and responsibilities of the office during working hours, and to be courteous.
Article IV (A) of the 1990 National Association for Court Management Code of Conduct says that, “Members should carry out their responsibilities to the public in a timely, impartial, diligent, and courteous manner, strictly adhering to the principles embodied in this code.”
Tenet Two of the California Administrative Office of the Courts Ethics Code Guidelines call upon staff to,” Demonstrate the highest standards of personal integrity, honesty, and truthfulness in all our professional and personal dealings, avoiding the misuse of court time, equipment, supplies, or facilities for personal business.”
Canon 1 (G) of the New Jersey Code of Conduct for Judicial Employees says, “No court employee shall refuse to enforce or otherwise carry out any properly issued rule or order of court, nor shall court employees exceed that authority.”