Lobbying for the Judicial Branch

In what is very likely a first in our nation’s history, judges in California have been given the OK to ask lawyers for their help in lobbying for more court funding. Earlier this month, the new California Supreme Court Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions issued its formal opinion allowing the state’s judges to ask attorneys to write op-ed commentaries or participate in community education programs as part of the overall effort to protect the administration of justice.

As discussed here previously, judicial pay and court funding represent perhaps the most crucial issues our courts face today. With local, state and federal judges regularly leaving the profession in search of better pay in private practice, the new California rule arrives at a welcome time. Case backlogs and the exodus of qualified judges are just two of the important problems that can be remedied by more and better funding.

In keeping with the Committee’s overall ethics mandate, the recent opinion advises judges that they “might avoid the appearance of favoritism by prefacing any request with the caveat that help is sought from anyone willing to volunteer, but without any expectations or benefits attached.”

Kudos to the California Supreme Court and this judicial ethics committee for meeting this problem head-on. Here’s hoping that the foresight of our legal peers to the west will help spur a better national consciousness about why courts need more funding in order to benefit every citizen.


Posted: 4/26/2013 6:21:29 AM by Editor | with 0 comments

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Thanks for stopping by On the Merits, the first blog from the Texas Center for Legal Ethics. On the Merits will take a close look at significant legal stories with an eye toward addressing the legal myths and misconceptions that turn up in news stories, movies, TV programs, websites, anonymous emails and other forms of mass communications. Our goal at On the Merits is to provide readers with a thoughtful examination of what the media and others are saying about the legal profession and to apply the frequently-absent context of how the legal system actually works.

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