It is fundamental to this code and a prerequisite to its other canons that a court professional commit to fulfilling the duties of citizenship in a self–governing democratic society.
This includes upholding the United States Constitution and the appropriate state constitution, as well as Federal and state laws and legal regulations.
Court professionals shall comply with our legal duties, placing loyalty to the
principles of this code before loyalty to persons or other affiliations.
Incorporating Laws into the Code
Many ethics codes incorporate statues and laws or reference them in detail. 1 The Model Code takes the direction that obedience to the law is an underlying prerequisite for commitment to the canons.
The question of civil disobedience, particularly as it applies to religious beliefs, has been subject to debate. An assumption incumbent in urging court professionals to obey all laws is that all laws have been arrived at in a legitimate manner regardless of whether or not one agrees with them.
What are the responsibilities of a court professional who strongly opposes abortion if, for example, minors have the right to petition a court to obtain an abortion without parental consent? Can the professional, in good conscience, handle the minor’s paperwork? Has the professional contributed to an abortion if the minor prevails? On the other hand, the minor is exercising her rights under the law, which the professional has an obligation to uphold. Most who have considered this question conclude that the professional should resign from the post if he or she feels strongly on the topic.
The Introduction of the American Judicature Society’s 1989 Model Code of Conduct for Non–Judicial Court Employees and Article IV of the 1990 National Association for Court Management Code of Conduct call on court employees to uphold the Constitution, laws and legal regulations of the United States, the State of and all governments therein, and never be a party to their evasion.
Canon 1 of the New Jersey Code of Conduct for Judicial Employees says, “A court employee shall uphold the Constitutions and laws of the United States and the State of New Jersey, and shall faithfully carry out all duties assigned to the employee's judicial function.” As a comments the code includes that, “Judiciary employees shall put loyalty to the principles embodied in this Code above loyalty to persons or parties.”