Judicial Code of Conduct Revision

Submitted by Supreme Court of Georgia

On May 14, 2015, the Supreme Court of Georgia approved a revised Georgia Code of Judicial Conduct, which updates and clarifies the ethical standards that Georgia judges and judicial candidates must follow. It is the first comprehensive revision of the Code in 21 years.

For more than three years, a Study Committee made up of judges, representatives of the Judicial Qualifications Commission, which investigates judicial misconduct, and the Director of the Institute of Continuing Judicial Education, reviewed the existing Code for possible revisions. Among the revisions, it considered changes based on the American Bar Association Model Code of Judicial Conduct and other states’ codes. A draft Code was published last November seeking comments from judges, lawyers and members of the public. After considering those comments, the Study Committee submitted its final draft to the Supreme Court of Georgia for approval.

“Upon careful consideration, and in keeping with the long tradition of ethical and professional conduct by Georgia’s judges, the Court hereby approves the revised Code of Judicial Conduct set out below, which will take effect on January 1, 2016,” says the order adopted today by the state Supreme Court.

Among the changes in the 57-page Code is a new rule that will require judges in most cases to resign before running for a non-judicial office, such as that of District Attorney or state House Representative. Other rules address such matters as the requirement to avoid bias, prejudice and harassment; standards for when judges must disqualify themselves; and in what non-judicial activities judges may participate.

“The Study Committee has done a rigorous and exhaustive review to make Georgia’s Code of Judicial Conduct as strong and as clear as possible,” said Chief Justice Hugh Thompson, who was the high court’s liaison to the committee before he was succeeded by Justice David Nahmias. “The whole purpose is to ensure that Georgia’s judges fulfill their constitutional duties to uphold the law in a fair and impartial way that guarantees justice for all citizens.”

The revised code can be found here.

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