I wrote this article to collect some cautionary material about “what gets judges in trouble.” I wanted something I could offer to our state judges, practitioners, and my legal ethics students. While I have never been a judge, and while I have never worked for a judicial conduct organization, I have been a law professor for almost twenty-five years and the chairman of a state bar association ethics committee for fourteen. I am not the kind of person who would refrain from holding forth just because I may not know what I am talking about.

When I started out, I naturally assumed that what my audience would want and need was some kind of scholarly and uplifting essay on the Code of Judicial Conduct. Being an academic lawyer who is no longer in the trenches, I naturally assumed that judges get into trouble because they are not familiar with the intricacies of that Byzantine document, and the less than obvious traps and pitfalls contained in it. If that is what you are looking for, I will not disappoint you. I will talk about the Code of Judicial Conduct. Indeed, I will give you a short list of what I believe may be the most frequently violated provisions. However, I must discuss a great deal more than the Code of Judicial Conduct; because when I really looked into the question of "what gets judges in trouble," I discovered that other troubling forces are at work out there in the "Real World." Here is what I discovered, and I hope that some of it amazes you, or we are in worse trouble than even I thought.

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2003


Notes/Citation Information

Journal of the National Association of Administrative Law Judges, Vol. 23, No. 1 (Spring 2003), pp. 101-136



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.