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D. Interviewing judges

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  • 2nd Circuit

    This will vary by jurisdiction and judge.

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  • 5th Circuit

    Nothing found specific to the Fifth Circuit.

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  • 7th Circuit

    In Franklin v. McCaughtry, 398 F.3d 955 (7th Cir. 2005), the Seventh Circuit held that a state court judge should have recused himself after he was mentioned and quoted in a newspaper article as having written a memorandum disapproving of the release of indigent prisoners on bail, which used the example of a defendant over whose case the judge was presiding.  The memorandum and the judge's “contacts with the newspaper were extrajudicial activities vis-a-vis” the defendant’s case, and showed actual bias.  Id. at 961-62.  Compare United States v. Board of Sch. Com'rs, 503 F. 2d , 80-81 (7th Cir. 1974) (district judge presiding over school desegregation case did not have to be recused based on published interview “which allegedly evinced an attitude of prejudgment on the liability of the state officials”; Court found judge’s remarks were “derived from proceedings had before the court, and not on attitudes or conceptions that were formed outside the courtroom” and did not constitute disqualifying bias).

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  • Alabama

    The Alabama Cannons of Judicial Ethics provide as follows:

    A judge should abstain from public comment about a pending or impending proceeding in any court, and should require similar abstention on the part of court personnel subject to his direction and control. This subsection does not prohibit judges from making public statements in the course of their official duties or from explaining for public information the procedures of the court.

    Ala. Canons Jud. Ethics 3(A)(6) (2019).

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  • Arizona

    No reported decisions.

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  • Georgia

    Nothing prohibits the interviewing of judges. In a report adopted by the Georgia Judicial Council and State Bar, a state judicial commission recently recommended that public understanding and support of the judicial system should be encouraged, in part by training “judges to educate the public about the role of the courts and the importance of an independent judiciary” and by encouraging “the Institute of Continuing Judicial Education to instruct judges on how to do so consistent with codes of judicial conduct.” See Embracing the Courts of the Future: Final Report of the Next Generation Courts Commission (March 2014) at 22; id. at 21–22 (“Courts at all levels in Georgia must promote long-term public confidence and support of the judicial system by demonstrating and practicing transparency, establishing as one of their core functions the effective provision of convenient and timely public access to court procedures, schedules, records and proceedings.”).

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  • Idaho

    Judges are required to abstain from making public comments regarding a pending or impending proceeding.  But, the Code of Judicial Conduct does not generally prohibit a judge from making a public statement in the course of her official duties “or from explaining for public information the procedures of the court.”  Idaho Code of Jud. Conduct, Canon 3(B)(9).  Additionally, a judge may comment on proceedings in which she is a litigant in a personal capacity but may not comment if she is a litigant in an official capacity, such as in a mandamus action.  Id. Commentary.

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  • Kansas

    Kansas judges may agree to be interviewed about the judicial system.  Rules of judicial conduct include a comment that:  “Judges are uniquely qualified to engage in extrajudicial activities that concern the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice, such as by speaking. . . . In addition, judges are permitted and encouraged to engage in educational . . . activities.” Rules Related to Judicial Conduct / Kansas Canons of Judicial Conduct / Canon 3, Rule 3.1 (comment), http://www.kscourts.org/rules/Judicial_Conduct/Canon%203.pdf, which appears in http://www.kscourts.org/rules/Judicial_Conduct.asp.  The Kansas Judicial Branch’s public information director is available to answer questions about contacting and interviewing judges.  See Appellate Court Contacts, Kansas Judicial Branch,  http://www.kscourts.org/court-administration/general-contact-information/default.asp.

    Judges readily have participated in educational programs on courts and media.  For example, the annual meeting of state judges on June 18, 2015, in Overland Park, Kansas, included panel discussions about how judges respond to media requests for access to probable cause affidavits and about media-judicial relations generally.

    Still, judges generally take a firm position that they must not comment on a pending case.  They are bound by Kansas Rules Relating to Judicial Conduct that prohibit them from making comment that “might reasonably be expected to affect” the outcome of a pending proceeding “or impair its fairness.”  The rules also prohibit judges from making “any nonpublic comment that might substantially interfere with a fair trial or hearing.”  Court personnel under the judges’ control also are subject to the rule.  Judges, however, are permitted to comment publicly in the course of performing their official duties, and they publicly may explain court procedures.  See Rules Relating to Judicial Conduct /Kansas Canons of Judicial Conduct, Canon 2 / Rule 2.10(a): http://www.kscourts.org/pdf/Code%20of%20Judicial%20Conduct.pdf.

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  • Nevada

    Judges are prevented from making any public statement that might reasonably be expected to affect the outcome or impair the fairness of a matter pending or impending in any court or make any nonpublic statement that might substantially interfere with a fair trial or hearing. Nevada Code of Judicial Conduct, Judicial Canon 2.10. Furthermore, a judge shall not, in connection with cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court, make pledges, promises, or commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of judicial office. Id.

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  • New Mexico

    There are no reported New Mexico cases regarding interviews of judges.

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  • Pennsylvania

    The Pennsylvania Code of Judicial Conduct states “a judge should abstain from public comment about a pending proceeding in any court….” Pa. Code Jud. Conduct Canon 3A(6). This subsection does not prohibit judges from making public statements in the course of their official duties or from explaining, for public information, the procedures of the court. Id.

    In Commonwealth v. Druce, 848 A.2d 104 (Pa. 2004), the court held that a judge’s statements to the media concerning a defendant’ sentencing violated Pa. Code Jud. Conduct Canon 3A(6), but did not per se require him to recuse himself from the case. While recognizing the Code “does not have the force of substantive law,” the court emphasized its approval of the Code’s standards of conduct and found a Code of Judicial Conduct violation. Id. at 109. The court also stated it “d[id] not approve of members of the judiciary speaking to the press about cases pending before them . . . .” Id.

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  • Wisconsin

    There is no prohibition in Wisconsin law on interviewing judges.

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