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Up-coming Live Webcast

Top Judicial Ethics Stories for 2013
Wednesday December 11, 2013 1-2:30 p.m.
Total credits:  1.5 
Speciality credits:  Ethics 1.5 

Although most judges do a very hard job very well, every year, approximately 100 judges are removed from office or otherwise publicly sanctioned by judicial conduct commissions across the U.S., and there are a multitude of news reports of judicial scandals and bizarre behavior, real and exaggerated.  This session highlights the chronic problems that result in judicial discipline and the current issues in judicial ethics by discussing recent cases and other developments in 2013 involving, for example, judicial license plates, judges moonlighting as comedians, sexual misconduct, closing courtrooms, Facebook and texting, and criminal charges against judges.
 
Speakers:  Steven Scheckman, Partner, Schiff, Scheckman & White LLP; General Counsel, Ethics Review Board of the City of New Orleans; Legal Counsel, Jefferson Parish Ethics & Compliance Commission; Cynthia Gray, Director, Center for Judicial Ethics of the American Judicature Society

To register and for additional information, click here.

Available On-Demand Continuing Legal Education Webcasts

Recent Judicial Disqualification Decisions  Not every potential judicial disqualification scenario is "extraordinary" enough to warrant review by the U.S. Supreme Court as in Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co., 556 U.S. 868 (2009). But every year there are appellate decisions and advisory opinions that illustrate the questions about impartiality that judges face every day and the strategy decisions lawyers must make in requesting a judge's disqualification. This program looks at some of these recent opinions to evaluate the post-Caperton status of judicial disqualification. 


The Too Friendly Judge?-- Judicial Ethics and Social Media  A recent survey indicated that, although more judges are participating in social media, many judges believe they cannot do so without crossing ethical boundaries.  In response to inquiries from judges seeking guidance, judicial ethics committees have approved judicial participation on sites such as Facebook but have urged judges to exercise caution.

This program discusses the ethical issues implicated when judges socialize on-line, the relevant provisions of the code of judicial conduct, and the advice given (particularly on the issue of judges’ “friending” lawyers), to develop a list of “do’s” and “don’ts” for judges and their social media contacts.


Restrictions on Judicial Political Conduct 10 Years after Republican Party of Minnesota v. White

In June 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court held that states cannot prohibit judicial candidates from announcing their views on disputed legal or social issues during campaigns.  Republican Party of Minnesota v. White, 536 U.S. 765 (2002).  In the 10 years since that decision, several dozen suits have been filed challenging other restrictions on judicial campaign conduct and political activity.  Most recently, in March 2012, the 8th Circuit, sitting en banc, upheld the prohibition on judges and judicial candidates endorsing other candidates and the Minnesota version of the prohibition on judicial candidates personally soliciting campaign contributions.

This program will review the post-White caselaw on issues such as answering campaign questionnaires, soliciting campaign contributions, endorsements, partisan activities, and disqualification to determine what questions have been resolved and what questions remain.


Federal Judicial Ethics and Discipline

The public information office of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has announced that a judicial misconduct complaint against Chief Judge Richard Cebull of the U.S. District Court for Montana “is currently under review.  The complaint was self-initiated by Judge Cebull and pertains to an inappropriate email message Judge Cebull recently sent to several people,” which the judge has admitted contained racists statements about President Obama.  The complaint has brought unusual attention to the little-known complaint process applicable to federal judges under the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act of 1980.  To help participants understand this developing news story, this program will describe the process in general, discuss recent public proceedings, and consider how the process may play out for Judge Cebull.


Big Money and Judicial Elections

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Citizens, which lifted limits on corporate and third-party campaign spending, is already having an effect in judicial elections, particularly retention elections.  This session will discuss the threat to judicial independence posed by campaign attacks funded by third-party interests and consider the interplay between Citizens United, the decision on disqualification in Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co., and the challenges to restrictions on judicial candidates following Republican Party of Minnesota v. White.  Participants will share and develop tools judicial candidates, campaign oversight committees, and others can use to ethically and effectively respond to third-party efforts to unseat judges.


Top Judicial Ethics Stories of 2012 - Although most judges do a very hard job very well, every year, approximately 100 judges are removed from office or otherwise publicly sanctioned by judicial conduct commissions across the U.S., and there are a multitude of news reports of judicial scandals and bizarre behavior, real and exaggerated.  This session highlights the chronic problems that result in judicial discipline and the current issues in judicial ethics by discussing recent cases and other developments in 2012 involving, for example, ticket-fixing, off-the-bench misconduct, and criminal charges against judges, and challenges to judicial discipline proceedings.


Top Judicial Ethics Stories of 2011

Although most judges do a very hard job very well, every year, approximately 100 judges are removed from office or otherwise publicly sanctioned by judicial conduct commissions across the U.S., and there are a multitude of news reports of judicial scandals and bizarre behavior.  This program highlights the chronic problems that result in judicial discipline and the current issues in judicial ethics by discussing recent cases and other developments involving, for example, sexual misconduct, campaign fund-raising, disqualification, and failure to be diligent.


Top Judicial Ethics Stories of 2010

Although most judges do a very hard job very well, every year, approximately 100 judges are removed from office or otherwise publicly sanctioned by judicial conduct commissions across the U.S., and there are a multitude of news reports of judicial scandals and bizarre behavior, real and imagined.  This session highlights the chronic problems that result in judicial discipline and the current issues in judicial ethics by discussing recent cases and other developments involving, for example, demeanor, campaign speech, judicial corruption, and Facebook.


A Conversation about Judicial Disqualification

Several recent high profile state and federal cases have attracted national attention to the challenges of ensuring the public that judicial decisions are being made by impartial judges, with increasing interest in how a disqualification determination will be made and who will make it.  Speakers for this program will consider a wide range of issues, such as, whether judges should be required to explain their disqualification decisions, whether motions to disqualify should be transferred to another judge, when campaign contributions should result in disqualification, and whether there is a duty to sit.


The Appearance of Impropriety Standards for Judges

This program will review the use and possible misuse of the appearance of impropriety standard in judicial ethics advisory opinions and judicial discipline decisions and debate whether the rule is unfairly vague or necessary and appropriate.


Avoiding Common Judicial Ethics Problems:  Part I

Although most judges avoid violating the code of judicial conduct, there are certain temptations that many judges have found difficult to resist and certain fact patterns that recur in judicial discipline cases each year. Using that case law, this program will describe examples of frequent violations to help judges avoid common ethical breaches, both on-the-bench and in extra-judicial activity.


Avoiding Common Judicial Ethics Problems: Part II

Although most judges avoid violating the code of judicial conduct, there are certain temptations that many judges have found difficult to resist and certain fact patterns that recur in judicial discipline cases each year. Using that case law, this program will describe examples of frequent violations to help judges avoid common ethical breaches, both on-the-bench and in extra-judicial activity.  Part I covered 6 topics, including, “Never ask ‘do you know who I am?,’” “Do not over-react to the judicial conduct commission,” and “be temperate.”  Part II will cover 5-6 additional topics such as treatment of pro se litigants, court staff, and colleagues.


Access to Justice: New Alliances, New Solutions

This program highlights the dramatic transformation of the American legal system from one that focuses on formal decision-making to one that is committed to equal access. The new vision contemplates that all – rich and poor, well-connected and less-connected, with lawyers and without – can have their cases heard and their grievances resolved.

The changes go well beyond traditional efforts to increase funding for lawyers to assist the poor, and include expanded pro bono roles for private attorneys, new services for self-represented litigants, and new structures for self-assessment by courts.  The changes are creating many new and interesting opportunities for lawyers to make a difference.


Eyewitness Identification Evidence: Science, Practice, and Trends

Mistaken eyewitness identification is the leading cause of the wrongful convictions in the United States, playing a role in more than 75% of the 261 cases overturned through DNA testing.  While several states, such as North Carolina and New Jersey, and numerous law enforcement agencies have already implemented new lineup procedures based on social science research, jurisdictions are beginning to move towards reforming current practices.

This program will discuss how eyewitness identification evidence is impacting legal practice and current trends in the states, courts, law enforcement and national legal organizations.  In addition the program will inform program participants on the basic principles behind eyewitness identification research, such as the need for double-blind lineup procedures and why sequential lineups may be more reliable than simultaneous lineup presentation methods.


Assisting Self-Represented Litigants by Drafting Documents: Expanding Your Business by "Ghostwriting" -- Value and Practicalities
The word "ghostwriting" is used to describe the process by which an attorney prepares a pleading or other document for a litigant, without otherwise appearing in the case.  While controversial in the past, it is becoming much more widely accepted, and provides a valuable way for attorneys to expand their business while helping expand access to justice.  This session will discuss the importance of the technique, explore the varying ethical and regulatory environments, and give practical tips for adding the service to your practice.