Judicial Ethics Advisory Board


The Colorado Judicial Ethics Advisory Board consists of judges and non-judges who provide advice on ethical issues to judicial officers who request an opinion on prospective conduct. There are seven board members: four are judges, one is a non-lawyer citizen, one an attorney, and one a law professor with an interest in ethics.

Any state judge, justice, magistrate, district administrator or clerk of court (asking on behalf of a judicial officer) in Colorado is welcome to request an advisory opinion from the Board. Requests may be made to any board member or to Christine Markman, Staff Attorney to the Supreme Court, who is providing staff support to the Board.

Once a request is received, the board will consider whether to research the question and issue a public opinion regarding the propriety of the proposed conduct and ethical considerations presented. The board meets six times per year. The board generally takes approximately sixty days to issue an opinion from the time it receives a request; however, it will do its best to honor a request for an expedited opinion where exigent circumstances justify such a request.

Opinions will be posted here and published in The Colorado Lawyer. Opinions are available at Colorado’s two law schools, the Office of the State Court Administrator, the Supreme Court Law Library, and they will be sent to the American Judicature Society, an organization dedicated to judicial issues and ethics.

Request for Judicial Advisory Opinion (JDF 2) - Links will only work if connected to the Judicial Intranet (Word) (PDF)

Colorado Judicial Ethics Advisory Board Members

Agendas for CJEAB meetings:
     Agenda for 12-15-11 meeting 
     Agenda for 4-20-12 meeting
     Agenda for 6-22-12 meeting
     Agenda for 8-24-12 meeting
     Agenda for 10-19-12 meeting
     Agenda for 2-22-13 meeting
     Agenda for 6-21-2013 meeting
     Agenda  for 6-20-14 meeting

Minutes of CJEAB meetings:
     Minutes of 12-15-11 meeting
     Minutes of 4-20-12 meeting
     Minutes of 6-22-12 meeting
     Minutes of 8-24-12 meeting
     Minutes of 10-19-12 meeting
     Minutes of 2-22-13 meeting
     Minutes of 6-21-13 meeting

 
2013
CJEAB Advisory Opinions
 

2013-04
A judge may not donate an item to be sold at a fundraising auction for a non-profit organization that would identify the judge by name and title, because doing so constitutes passive solicitation that is prohibited under Rule 3.7 of the Code.

2013-03
The judge is not disqualified from a C.R.C.P. 120 foreclosure proceeding or related declaratory judgment action based on his interest in the Public Employee Retirement Association (PERA), which holds investments in the foreclosing bank. The judge does not have an actual bias or prejudice regarding the parties, has at most a de minimis interest in the outcome of the proceedings through PERA, and does not have a disqualifying economic interest in the foreclosing bank or in the outcome of the litigation. To the extent his interest in PERA could give rise to an appearance of impropriety or impartiality, the rule of necessity would override any potential conflict and preclude his disqualification from either case.

2013-02
As part of their administrative duties, judicial officers may ethically select the attorneys who are eligible for appointment as counsel for respondent parents in dependency and neglect proceedings and monitor appointed attorneys’ performance, provided the exercise of those duties is impartial and based on merit.

 2013-01
The judge may serve on the board of directors of the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance, provided doing so would not lead to his frequent disqualification or otherwise interfere with his ability to perform his judicial duties. The judge must ensure that his activities as a board member do not undermine his impartiality, give rise to the appearance of impropriety, or violate other provisions of the Code.
 

2012
CJEAB Advisory
Opinions

2012-07
Both during the engagement and after the marriage, the judge, whose daughter is engaged to be married to a Deputy District Attorney: (1) must recuse from cases in which his future son-in-law enters an appearance or otherwise participates in the preparation or presentation of the case; (2) is not disqualified from all cases involving the District Attorney’s office, provided his future son-in-law has no personal involvement with the case and has no supervisory authority over the attorneys involved in the case; and (3) may ethically serve as the weekly duty judge responsible for reviewing and approving arrest warrants, search warrants, and warrantless arrest affidavits, provided his future son-in-law is not the attorney responsible for preparing or reviewing warrants and affidavits submitted for the judge’s approval.

2012-06
A judge who reports an attorney to Attorney Regulation Counsel but concludes that disqualification from the attorney’s cases is not required has a duty to sit on the reported attorney’s cases and must disclose the report to the parties and their counsel until the disciplinary proceeding stemming from the report has been closed.

2012-05
The judge may participate on the Child Welfare Executive Leadership Council, because it has some relationship to the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice. The judge may participate in any of the Council’s activities, provided doing so would not undermine the judge's impartiality, give rise to the appearance of impropriety, or violate other provisions of the Code. Having the judge’s abstention from discussing or voting on prohibited topics noted in the minutes of any meeting is one acceptable means of reflecting limitations on the judge’s role to avoid ethical concerns.

2012-04
A judge may purchase property that was the subject of a foreclosure proceeding in the judge’s judicial district at a subsequent sale, provided the purchase does not result or appear to result from the exploitation of the judicial office or the use of information acquired by the judge in his or her judicial capacity, the judge does not receive preferential treatment in the sale based on his or her position or affiliation with any person or entity involved in the foreclosure proceedings, and the purchase does not undermine the judge's impartiality or give rise to the appearance of impropriety.

2012-03
A judge involved with a teen offender diversion program run by a law-related non-profit organization may be interviewed for a video concerning the program to be used in both informational and fund-raising situations, provided the judge does not directly solicit funds on behalf of the organization. 

2012-02
A judge should recuse from all cases in which an attorney supervised by the judge’s spouse enters an appearance.

2012-01
A judge serving as chairman of the board of a non-profit organization may not sign grant applications on behalf of the organization, regardless of whether the judge is identified as a judge in the application materials.

 

2011 CJEAB Advisory Opinions

2011-01
Withdrawing Opinion 2004-01, the Board determines that a judge’s report of attorney misconduct, without more, does not require the judge automatically to recuse from the reported attorney’s cases.  If the judge has a personal bias or prejudice against the attorney, or if the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned if the judge did not recuse, the judge must recuse from the reported attorney’s cases.  If the judge determines that the judge must recuse, the judge’s disqualification from the reported attorney’s cases does not require the judge to recuse in pending or new cases filed generally by the attorney’s law firm but that do not include an entry of appearance by the reported attorney.

 

2010 CJEAB Advisory Opinions

2010-03

The judges, who face active opposition to their retention, may speak publicly about: (1) the retention process and performance evaluation process; (2) the 35(c) proceedings in the Masters case and the Special Prosecutor’s Report issued at the end of that proceeding; (3) the disciplinary process and stipulations signed by the judges regarding their conduct; and (4) the civil suit filed against them by Mr. Masters—provided that their statements are truthful, are consistent with Canon 1, and do not impact the fairness of the pending criminal investigation into the police lieutenant or any proceedings that may result from the ongoing investigation by the Attorney General’s Office.

 

2010-02

The judge should not serve on an interagency oversight board which determines how to spend certain state funds where a new memorandum of understanding with the state on dispersal of the funds creates a financial incentive for the judge to reduce certain placements in his capacity as a judge in order to provide more funds for the oversight group.  Service on the board would reflect adversely on the judge’s impartiality and could create an appearance of impropriety, and thus he should resign.

 

2010-01

A judge may not request that CLE providers offer programs to judges on a discounted or no cost basis, and a committee on which judges serve may not make the request on behalf of its judge members.  Judges should disclose the benefit of discounted or no cost programs if they are made available only to judges, but need not do so if the programs are available to similarly situated persons who are not judges.

2009 CJEAB Advisory Opinions

2009-03
Absent a change to the Canons, a judge may not serve on his city's bicycle advisory committee.

2009-02
A judge is not required to disqualify herself sua sponte from all criminal matters where the judge received a death threat from a former litigant who is being prosecuted by the DA's office for threatening the judge.  The judge should, however, examine her own conscience and emotions for bias toward the DA's office or against defense counsel that might make sua sponte recusal appropriate.

2009-01
A judge may accept his long-time friend's invitation to the friend's birthday celebration, which will involve a trip out of state, and for which all expenses for all invitees will be covered by the friend.  The judge is not required to report the trip.

2008 CJEAB Advisory Opinions

2008-07
A judge may approve a deferred-sentence agreement that requires a defendant to make a donation to a specific charity, as long as the charity specified in the agreement is neither chosen nor suggested by the court.

 

2008-06
Colorado judges may be members of the Colorado District Judges’ Association and they may pay dues to the Association knowing that those dues will be used to hire a lobbyist to advance the member judges’ interests as judges. Further, judges may solicit membership dues from other judges over whom they do not have supervisory or appellate authority.

  2008-05 
The judge asks whether there is active opposition to his retention and whether he may begin a campaing in support of his retention. A great deal of media attention to a judge’s ruling, even if it is critical of the ruling, does not, in itself, constitute active opposition to the judge’s retention. However, if there is an organized campaign in opposition to the judge’s retention or if there are individual comments opposed to the judge’s retention that have been broadcast to a public audience, the judge may safely conclude that there is active opposition to the judge’s retention. Here, the Board concludes that the numerous comments posted on the local newspaper’s website recommending non-retention of the judge amount to active opposition. Nevertheless, the Board cautions the judge that even though he may, ethically, campaign for retention, he should begin a campaign with great care, bearing in mind that our system strongly disfavors judicial campaigns.
 

2008-04
Judges standing for retention may not appear on a television program in which a representative of the League of Women Voters would ask them questions to help provide viewers with more information about whether or not the judges should be retained. Viewers might reasonably expect that the judge was seeking an approval vote and might therefore understand that the judge is engaging in campaign activity.

 

2008-03
The judge may speak at a CLE which is, in effect, limited to only one component of the bar, provided that the judge satisfies certain conditions. In addition, the judge should consider with care the topic on which he presents, and should avoid presenting on a topic such as trial strategy, which could raise questions regarding the judge's impartiality.

 

2008-02
A judge may not attend or participate in a precinct caucus; however, a judge may vote in a primary election.

 

2008-01
A judge may, at his or her discretion, meet with a special interest group, but the judge is not required to do so. In assessing whether to grant a request for a meeting, judge should require the special interest group to submit a written request specifying the purpose of the meeting. If the purpose is not improper and the judge wishes to grant the request, he or she should send a written response laying out ground rules for the meeting. At the meeting itself, the judge should ensure that the group is not given any impression that it is in a special position to influence the judge, and the judge should not engage in any ex parte communications with the group regarding any pending or impending matters.

2007 CJEAB Advisory Opinions

2007-11
The judge may accept an appointment to the Colorado Child Support Commission. The work of this commission satisfies the direct nexus test and does not call into question the judge’s impartiality, effectiveness, or independence.

 

2007-10
The requesting judge may serve on a “Justice Coordinating Committee” established by his Board of County Commissioners. The work of the JCC has a direct nexus to the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice. The purposes of the JCC are very general and it has no objective that seems likely to call into question the judge’s impartiality, effectiveness, or independence. Thus, the concerns raised in 2005-04 by the judge’s service on a municipal crime control and prevention commission are not implicated here. However, the requesting judge should reexamine the propriety of his continued service if the scope of work changes from that set forth in the JCC’s bylaws, particularly as to objectives which could compromise the judge’s neutrality.

 

2007-09
A judge whose spouse is elected to the City Council, which exercises supervisory responsibility over the Chief of Police and City Manager, is not required to disqualify himself in cases charged by the police department. He should, however, consider whether the facts and circumstances make disqualification appropriate in a particular case. The judge should disclose that his spouse is a member of the City Council in cases charged by the police department

 

2007-08
A judge may serve on two Colorado Bar Association task forces dedicated to Judicial Performance Commissions and the death penalty. He should, however, reassess the propriety of his involvement if the focus of the death penalty task force goes beyond merely recommending that the CBA take a position.

 

2007-07
A district court judge may not accept a voting or non-voting board position on a local community board that combines integrated services and legislative advocacy because such membership would involve legislative advocacy beyond matters to improve the law in violation of Canon 7.

 

2007-06
A county court judge may not both sit as a district judge on an ongoing basis in criminal matters and appear as a lawyer in that district court in civil matters.

 

2007-05
A judge may not advertise her availability to perform wedding ceremonies and may not solicit business as a wedding officiant.

 

2007-04
A judge is not required to disqualify himself when his godchild’s estranged father appears before him, but he should disclose the relationship to each party when his godchild’s father appears in court.

 

2007-03
A judge may serve on a grant-making committee of a community foundation.

 

2007-02
A judge may serve on the board of directors of a public charter school in a neighboring judicial district.

 

2007-01
A judge who paid for the judge’s adult daughter’s legal representation in two criminal matters and was reimbursed by the daughter need not disqualify herself or himself on a sua sponte basis when the attorney who represented the judge’s adult daughter appears before the judge. The judge should consult the judge’s own conscience to determine whether disqualification is warranted if the judge maintains a disabling prejudice for or against the attorney. If the judge concludes that disqualification is unnecessary, disclosure of the daughter’s representation still may be appropriate until the passage of time, the limited consequences of the prior matter and the nature of the judge’s relationship with the attorney have made the prior representation irrelevant. In this case, the Board recommends that the judge issue a one-time disclosure letter to the district attorney’s office, whose lawyers always would be opposing counsel in matters involving the private criminal defense attorney who represented the judge’s daughter.

2006 CJEAB Advisory
Opinions

2006-10
Judges may attend the gubernatorial inauguration and related events.

  2006-09
A full-time judge who will be retiring soon should refrain from setting or hearing private mediations until after he retires as a judge.
  2006-08
The judge should not accept appointment to a blue ribbon panel of public and private leaders charged with “reducing the state’s contribution and vulnerability to a changed climate” by developing a set of recommendations and policy proposals addressing how Colorado can mitigate and adapt to climate change.  The judge’s work on the panel would involve consulting with or providing recommendations to the legislative and executive branches on climate control issues, which are unconnected with the law, the legal system, the administration of justice, or the role of the judiciary, and thus are prohibited under Canon 4.  In addition, the blue ribbon panel’s focus on influencing legislation constitutes prohibited political activity within the meaning of Canon 7.
  2006-07
A judge may make a monetary contribution to a group advocating for or against Amendment 40 so long as the group is not a partisan "political organization." Additionally, a judge may speak to civic groups about the measure and write editorials opposing or promoting it because such political activity implicates the law, the legal system, the administration of justice, and the role of the judiciary as an independent branch of government and thus is expressly permitted under Canons 4 and 7.
  2006-06
The judge may serve on the board of an organization devoted to seeking funds to assist defendants in obtaining court-ordered substance abuse treatment, and he may make recommendations to a private foundation that it should fund programs to the same end, but it would be inappropriate for the judge to assist in determining which particular defendants receive the scholarship funds.
  2006-05
A judge should disqualify himself or herself sua sponte if an attorney or firm currently representing the judge, or representing the judge’s adversary in a current matter, appears before the judge. A judge should also continue to disqualify himself or herself sua sponte for a reasonable period of time after the representation has ended, typically one year, when the judge’s attorney, other members of that firm, the judge’s adversary’s attorneys, or members of that attorney’s firm appear before the judge. After the expiration of a reasonable period of time, continued disqualification is not required, but may be appropriate under the facts and circumstances of the case in which the judge was represented. Here, although this reasonable period has lapsed, the judge should consider various objective and subjective factors in assessing whether continued disqualification is appropriate, and how the judge should respond to a motion to disqualify. However, the judge should continue to disclose the prior representation for an extended period, at least until the passage of time, the limited consequences of the prior matter, and the nature of his current relationship with his prior attorney have made the prior representation irrelevant.
  2006-04
To make clear that any contribution by a judge’s spouse to a political candidate is not from the judge, that contribution should be made in the spouse’s name alone from the spouse’s separate bank account with no reference to the judge or his judicial position.
  2006-03
A judge may not testify as a character witness on a voluntary basis, but he is obligated to comply with a subpoena if one is issued. Where a judge has been asked to provide such testimony, the judge should consider whether the interests of justice require his or her testimony, and if not should then consider attempting to discourage the subpoenaing party or lawyer from requiring the testimony, because of the possibility that the testimony is being sought to trade on the judge’s position. Whether the interests of justice require the testimony depends on three factors related to the specifics of the particular case in which the judge would be asked to testify.
 

2006-02
A full-time judge may not participate in her local legal service’s call-a-lawyer program by providing pro bono advice to callers, anonymous or otherwise, because doing so would constitute the practice of law. Full-time judges are prohibited from engaging in the practice of law. The judge may, however, engage in activities intended to encourage attorneys to perform pro bono services or act in an advisory capacity to the legal services pro bono program.

  2006-01
A judge may recommend a lawyer or lawyers to friends or family only in circumstances where the judge has a sufficiently close relationship with the requesting party that he would automatically recuse himself from the case due to the closeness of that relationship, regardless of whether the judge had been asked to make a recommendation.
2005 CJEAB Advisory
Opinions

2005-05
A judge’s spouse is not bound by the Code of Judicial Conduct and thus may freely pursue whatever elected office to which the spouse aspires. The judge, however, should refrain from attending all political events in support of the spouse’s candidacy and must avoid activities that could be perceived as constituting an endorsement of the candidate or using the prestige of the judicial office to benefit the spouse. The judge may, however, allow the judge’s photograph to be used in the spouse’s campaign literature as long as the judge is not depicted as or identified as a judge.

 

2005-04
A judge should not serve on a governmental commission unless there is a close nexus between the work of the commission and the improvement of the law, legal system, or the administration of justice. The crime control commission at issue here lacks that nexus, making a judge’s service on it inappropriate. The judge may, however, provide factual information to the commission to assist it in its policymaking efforts.

 

2005-03
A judge should not serve on the board of directors of his or her homeowners’ association where the association is large and substantial, operates a sizeable budget and maintains significant cash reserves, and engaged in substantial business-type contacts that might lead to or involve litigation.

 

2005-02
A judge in a small, rural jurisdiction should disqualify himself from cases in which a partner or associate in his brother-in-law’s firm acts as counsel.

  2005-01
A judge need not recuse in every case involving a law enforcement agency for which the judge’s spouse occasionally performs arson investigations.

2004 CJEAB Advisory
Opinions

2004-02
A mentee judge may discuss pending or impending matters with his or her mentor judge but the mentee judge alone is responsible for making decisions on the matter.

  2004-01
A judge’s report of an attorney’s misconduct in a case pending before the judge requires the judge to disqualify him or herself.

 

Directive 94-01 AMENDED

 

 

Related Documents and Forms: (all are in Adobe pdf format, you can get the free Adobe Reader here)

 


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