Opinion 60

Opinion 60

The Judicial Qualifications Commission has been requested to give an opinion as to whether a judge can permit himself to be interviewed with regard to a trial recently conducted by him and to be questioned primarily about procedures and factors which influenced his decisions in the case, rather than specific prosecutorial or defense strategies involved. Rule 2.10 provides in relevant parts:

(A) Judges shall not make, on any pending proceeding or impending matter in any court, any public comment that might reasonably be expected to affect its outcome or impair its fairness or make any non-public comment that might substantially interfere with a fair trial or hearing.

(D) Notwithstanding the restrictions in Rule 2.10, a judge may make public statements in the course of official duties, may explain court procedures, and may comment on any proceeding in which the judge is a litigant in a personal capacity. 

In the light of this prohibition, it would be a clear violation of the Canon for the judge to participate in any interview with respect to a case tried by him so long as the case was not finally disposed of, or there existed the remotest possibility of further proceedings before him.

Moreover, the Commission is of the opinion that, while a judge may discuss procedures of the court in general terms for the information of the public a discussion relating trial strategies to his decisions in a specific case would be inappropriate.

[Pertinent Code of Judicial Conduct provisions: Rules 2.10(A), 3.7(A)(1). Cross reference to other relevant opinions for review: #6, #110, #150.]

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