CAMPAIGNING FOR OTHER CANDIDATES

Opinion No. 170 (1994)


QUESTIONS:
1. May a judge of a district, county or J.P. court running for reelection or candidate for any such office hand out campaign material for candidates of one's own political party along with one's material and recommend to people that they vote for these candidates?

2. May a judge of a district, county, or J.P. court running for reelection or candidate for any such office hand out campaign material for candidates of one's own political party along with one's material without making any endorsement but with the request that the voters consider these other candidates?

3. May a judge of a district, county, or J.P. court running for reelection or candidate for any such office hand out a campaign piece produced and paid for by one's own political party that contains an advertisement for such judge along with advertisements for the other candidates?

4. For any of the activities described above which are determined to violate the new code, would it be permissible for one's spouse to engage in such action?

ANSWERS:
It is the opinion of the Committee that the first three questions are prohibited by Canon 5(3)* of the Code of Judicial Conduct which provides in the first sentence, "A judge or judicial candidate shall not authorize the public use of his own name endorsing another candidate for public office except that either may indicate support for a political party."

Public activity by handing out campaign material for another candidate by a judge or candidate for judge as set out in Questions 1 through 3 would be a public endorsement. Articulating a "recommendation" as set out in Question 1 or by asking "consideration" as set out in Question 2 would merely be another form of public endorsement.


*All Canon references are to the Code of Judicial Conduct effective March 1, 1994.

Question 3, although it does not involve articulating support for another, still involves an overt act of personally handing out campaign material for another candidate and would be a public endorsement.

Opinion No. 100 concluded that joint campaign activity by two judge candidates would violate the Canon 2 prohibition against lending the prestige of judicial office to advance the "private interests" include candidacy. See also Opinions No. 73, 92, 136, and 145.

Question 4 involves the conduct of a spouse of a judge. The Code does not attempt to regulate the activities of a judge's spouse so this conduct would not be prohibited.