American Judges Association


Court Review: Journal of the American Judges Association


Cynthia Gray

Date of this Version



Court Review - Volume 57


Used by permission.


The phrase “the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice” creates several exceptions to prohibitions in the code of judicial conduct. For example, a judge may only serve on governmental commissions1 and only consult with the executive or legislative branches2 on those issues. In general, judges can express themselves more and get involved more in extra-judicial activities that are related to “the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice.”

On the one hand, the exemptions make sense: legal-system-related issues are within the judiciary’s expertise, and judges’ interests, and promoting improvements in those areas may be an appropriate expenditure of the capital accumulated in the prestige of judicial office. On the other hand, “facets of almost every social problem facing today’s society will play themselves out in the courts,”3 and the law and the legal system are “used as a means to achieve social, political, or civic objectives.”4 Thus, the connection between “the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice” and judicial duties means involvement in those matters off-the-bench will more often raise more serious questions about judicial impartiality on the bench than would, for example, service on a library board.