USE OF "JUDGE" BY SITTING JUDGE RUNNING FOR
NON-JUDICIAL OFFICE

Opinion No. 159 (1993)


QUESTION NO. 1: May a sitting judge who runs for a non-judicial political office use the title "Judge" as part of political advertising, e.g. "Elect Judge to Congress"?

QUESTION NO. 2: May a sitting judge who runs for a nonjudicial political office use the title "Judge" in the name of the campaign committee?

ANSWER: No, a sitting judge may not use the title "Judge" as part of his or her advertising for nonjudicial office nor may he or she use the title "Judge" in the name of the campaign committee.

Canon 2B provides that a judge should not lend the prestige of his or her office to advance the judge's private interest. The use of the term "Judge" in the campaign material would give the appearance of using the prestige of judicial office for the private gain of the candidate. See Opinion 137, Question No. 3, where the use of judicial letterhead for campaign purpose for election to another office was prohibited as giving the appearance the candidate was attempting to exploit his judicial position.*

QUESTION (3): May a sitting judge describe in his or her political literature for a nonjudicial office his or her past experience as a judge, and use the word "Judge" in that connection?

ANSWER: Yes, a judge may describe in his or her political literature for a nonjudicial office his or her experience as a judge. In such a situation, the judge must be cautious not to give undue emphasis to his or her present position so as to give the impression he or she is attempting to exploit his or her judicial office. See Opinion 137, Question No. 3.

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* It is significant to note that the 1972 and the 1990 revision of the ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct requires that a judge running for nonjudicial office resign his or her judicial office. According to the American Judicature Society, it is thought this is the rule adopted in all states except Texas. The clear theme throughout the country in cases concerning this subject is that a person who identifies himself or herself as "Judge" in a political campaign for nonjudicial office is using the prestige of judicial office for personal gain.