Opinion 212

An opinion is requested on the propriety of the following political conduct:

Is it appropriate for a candidate for Judge of the Probate Court to use the designation “Judge” in political advertising if in fact the candidate does not presently hold a judicial position?

Rule 4.2(A)(3) provides in pertinent part:

Judicial candidates “shall not use or participate in the publication of a false statement of fact, or make any misleading statement concerning themselves or their candidacies, or concerning any opposing judicial candidate or candidacy, with knowledge of the statement’s falsity or with reckless disregard for the statement’s truth or falsity.”

In addition, such conduct is inconsistent with the holding of this Commission in Opinion No. 167 (April 24, 1992) wherein it was held:

… the individual seeking election is in fact a judge and, accordingly, may properly refer to himself as such in political advertising so long as the judicial position which he currently holds is clearly specified therein and such advertisements are not otherwise misleading. (Emphasis added.)

Measured by these standards, the issue posed must be answered in the negative.

The Commission reminds all candidates, including incumbent judges, of the Applicability provisions of Canon 4 and urges full and immediate compliance with the requirements of this opinion.

[Pertinent Code of Judicial Conduct provisions: Rule 4.2. Cross reference to other relevant opinions for review: #60, #82, #110, #150, #167, #207, #211.]

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