Ethics

Model Code of Conduct for Court Professionals  

Preamble

Service to the judicial branch is a public trust.  The foundation of our society rests, in part, on the ability of the citizens to wisely judge the value of our courts and to acknowledge the integrity of the judiciary as a co-equal branch of our government.  Court professionals, who work for the judicial branch and are faithful to these values, must be accountable to that trust.  This code is therefore a personal and professional pledge to that trust and to those values.

Scope 

This code applies to all full-time, part-time and temporary court system employees, who are identified in this code as court professionals.

The code is intended to complement separate professional codes that bind court system professionals.

Citizenship

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. 

Canon 1: Avoiding Impropriety and the Appearance of Impropriety in All Activities

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.

Canon 1.2 - Avoiding Impropriety

A court professional shall avoid both impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.  A court professional shall avoid improper influences from business, family, position, party, or person.  A court professional shall avoid activities that would impugn the dignity of the court.

Canon 1.3 - Fairness

A court professional shall conduct his or her work without bias or prejudice including, but not limited to, bias or prejudice based upon race, gender, skin color, religion, age, sexual orientation, national origin, language, marital status, socioeconomic status, or physical or mental challenge.

Canon 1.4 - Respect of Others

A court professional shall treat litigants, co-workers and all others interacting with the court with dignity, respect and courtesy.

Canon 1.5 - Involvement in Actions Before a Court

A court professional shall notify the appropriate authority whenever he or she, anyone in his or her family, or anyone with whom he or she has a close personal relationship has been arrested, named as a party, or is otherwise formally involved in any action pending in any court.

Canon 1.6 - Avoiding Privilege

  1. A court professional shall use his or her official position solely for its intended purpose. A court professional shall not use his or her position (intentionally or unintentionally), to secure unwarranted privileges or exemptions for oneself or others; a court professional shall not dispense special favors to anyone, whether or not he or she was offered remuneration. 

A court professional shall not attempt to take advantages of his or her enhanced access to judges and court files to further any personal interest he or she might have in a case or engage in court related ex–parte discussions with judges.

Canon 1.7 - Assisting Litigants

A court professional shall be responsive to inquiries regarding standard court procedures, but shall not give legal advice unless it is required as part of one’s official position.


Canon 2: Performing the Duties of Position Impartially and Diligently

Canon 2.1 - Independent Judgment

A court professional shall avoid relationships that would impair one’s impartiality and independent judgment.  A court professional shall be vigilant of conflicts of interest and ensure that outside interests are never so extensive or of such nature as to impair one’s ability to perform court duties.

Canon 2.2 - Personal Relationships

A court professional shall recruit, select, and advance personnel based on demonstrated knowledge, skills, abilities, and bona fide work–related factors, not on favoritism.  A court professional shall avoid appointing, assigning, or directly supervising, a family member, or attempting to influence the employment or advancement of a family member.  Where circumstances dictate that one must work directly with a family member, a court professional shall report the circumstance to an appropriate authority, regularly assess the situation, and take remedial action at the earliest time practicable.

Canon 2.3 - Misconduct of Others

  1. A court professional should expect fellow professionals to abide by the canons set out in this code.  A court professional shall report to the appropriate authority the behavior of any court professional who violates this code including, but not limited to, potential conflicts of interest involving one’s duties and attempts to inappropriately influence one in performing one’s duties.

Canon 2.4 - Attempts at Influence

A court professional shall immediately report to the appropriate authority any attempt to compel one to violate these canons.

Canon 2.5 - Properly Maintain Records

A court professional shall not inappropriately destroy, alter, falsify, mutilate, backdate or fail to make required entries on any records within the court’s control.

Canon 2.6 - Legal Requirements

A court professional shall maintain the legally required confidentialities of the court, not disclosing confidential information to any unauthorized person, for any purpose.  A court professional shall properly provide confidential information that is available to specific individuals authorized to receive such by reason of statute, court rule or administrative policy.

Canon 2.7 - Discretion

A court professional shall be respectful of litigants, the public, applicants and employees’ personal lives; disregard information that legally cannot or should not otherwise be considered; use good judgment in weighing the credibility of Internet data; and be cautious about verifying identities.

A court professional shall treat personal or sensitive information with the same discretion that one would wish others to have if one were involved in a similar case.

 

Canon 2.8 - Proper Use of Public Resources

A court professional shall use the resources, property and funds under one’s official control judiciously and solely in accordance with prescribed procedures.


Canon 3: Conducting Outside Activities to Minimize the Risk of Conflict with Official Position

Canon 3.1 - Outside Business

  1. The court is a court professional’s primary employment.  A court professional shall avoid outside activities, including outside employment, business activities, even subsequent employment and business activities after leaving judicial service, that reflect negatively upon the judicial branch and on one’s own professionalism.
  2. A court professional shall notify the appropriate authority prior to accepting work or engaging in business outside of one’s court duties.  A court professional shall not request or accept any compensation or fee beyond that received from their employer for work done in the course of their public employment.  However, court professionals may engage in outside employment as long as it does not conflict with the performance of their official responsibilities or violate this code.

Canon 3.2 - Compensation and Post-Employment Restrictions

During or following one’s employment with a court, a court professional shall not represent a commercial interest to, or do business with, that same court unless both the employment and commercial interest are fully disclosed to and approved by the court’s appropriate management authority.

Canon 3.3 - Avoiding Gifts

A court professional shall not solicit, accept, agree to accept, or dispense any gift, favor, or loan either for oneself or on behalf of another based upon any understanding, either explicit or implicit, that would influence an official action of the court.

Canon 3.4 - Financial Disclosure

A court professional shall dutifully disclose all financial interests and dealings required by law, rule, or regulation.

Canon 4: Refraining from Inappropriate Political Activity

Canon 4.1 – Refraining from Inappropriate Political Activity

A court professional retains one’s right to vote and is encouraged to exercise it as a part of citizenship.  Engaging in any political activity is done strictly as a private citizen and only in accordance with state law or court rules.  A court professional shall participate only during non-court hours, using only non-court resources.  A court professional shall not use one’s position or title within the court system to influence others.

Unless a court professional is elected to one’s court position, one shall campaign during non­-­work hours or take an unpaid leave of absence upon declaring one’s intent to run for office. If elected, a court professional shall resign one’s post with the court unless one is holding a political office that clearly does not hold a conflict of interest, nor does it interfere with one’s ability to perform one’s court duties.

Adopted by the NACM Board on October 27, 2007