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Resources for Judicial Candidates

To assist judicial candidates, the Task Force on Judicial Elections has compiled a selection of helpful resources on judicial campaign conduct in Illinois. It is important to note that judges who run for retention must comply with the Illinois Code of Judicial Conduct and lawyers who run for judicial election must also comply with Rule 8.2 of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct, which reads as follows in pertinent part:

"(a) A lawyer shall not make any statement the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard to its truth or falsity concerning qualifications or integrity of a judge, adjudicative officer, public legal officer, or of a candidate for election or appointment to judicial or legal office;

(b) A lawyer who is a candidate for judicial office shall refrain from conduct which, if the lawyer were a judge, would be a breach of the Code of Judicial Conduct."

Illinois Rules

Illinois Code of Judicial Conduct, Rules 61,62, and 67

Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 8.2

Illinois Caselaw

Buckley v Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board, 997 F2d 224 (7th Cir 1993) declaring as an unconstitutional infringement on First Amendment free speech portions of Illinois Supreme Court rule 67 that prohibited judicial candidates from making pledges or promises of conduct in office and from announcing views on disputed legal or political issues.

In re Lane, 127 Ill2d 90, 535 NE2d 866, 129 Ill Dec 101 (1989) attorney suspended for one year from the practice of law for making a loan to a judge, rather than making a loan or gift to the judge's campaign fund).

Illinois Court Commission Cases

In re Tully, 2 Ill Cts Com 150 (1991) (No. 90CC2) (respondent reprimanded for violating Code of Judicial Conduct; statements determined to be in violation since misleading to the voting public included the following; statement that candidate was highly qualified and endorsed by trial lawyers group without sufficiently identifying the organization that found the candidate to be highly qualified; and statement " Vote for John P. Tully Appellate Court Judge" when candidate was a circuit judge running for election to appellate court, not an appellate court judge running for retention)

In re Elwarrd, 1 Ill Cts Com 114 (1997) (No. 77CC1) (Complaint dismissed; commission determined that in the total mix of information conveyed to voters, including numerous bar association and newspaper editorial recommendations that judge not be retained, and considering the need for a judge seeking retention to mount a campaign, it was not misleading for judge running for retention to have excerpted positive quotes from a bar association evaluation without mentioning that the bar association had recommended the judge not be retained because of a clear lack of judicial temperament).

Advisory Opinions of the Illinois Judicial Ethics Committee (IJEC)

Selected Advisory Opinions of the Illinois Judicial Ethics Committee relevant to judicial conduct/elections, courtesy of the Illinois Judges Association Web site – not binding in Illinois but containing practical advice to judges with hypothetical questions on ethical conduct, on a wide variety of subjects, including campaign finance and campaign statements. You'll find more ethics opinions on the Illinois Judges Association Web site.

IJEC Advisory Opinion Re: Announcing Views on Controversial Issues

The Illinois Judicial Ethics Committee cautions candidates for judicial office that responding to Questionnaires which demand answers to "Hot Button" political questions may trigger ethical concerns, despite rhetorical assurances that the answers to the Questions are "not intended to require candidates to commit or appear to commit themselves with respect to cases, controversies or issues that might come before the candidate, if he or she is elected to judicial office." Find out more and read the letter opinion.

Opinion No. 93-11 (11/17/93): Judge's duty to disqualify self in proceedings involving political campaign contributors.

Opinion 93-12 (11/17/93): Attendance at a Golf Outing as a Guest of a Bar Association or a lawyer or at the behest of a political office-holder.

Opinion No. 94-5 (3/22/94): Whether a judge or a judge who is a candidate for a higher judicial office can publish his or her views regarding gun control.

Opinion No. 94-6(3/22/94): Non-candidate judge contributing to candidate.

Opinion No. 94-7 (3/22/94): Judge's nomination for an award to be conferred by a voluntary association.

Opinion No. 94-11 (5/16/94): Judge's authority to publicly endorse a candidate for judicial office.

Opinion No. 94-17 (6/17/94): Judicial Speakers Bureau; Judges' Speech Regarding Controversial Law-Related Subjects.

Opinion No. 94-21 (9/27/94): Judge's attendance and introduction at a political gathering.

Opinion No. 95-8 (4/18/95): Judge sending "thank-you" notes to campaign contributors.

Opinion No. 96-1 (1/31/96): Campaign funds - authority to sign expenditure check

Opinion No. 96-12 (7/16/96): Judge attendance at a political dinner with spouse who is a candidate for Sheriff.

Opinion No. 96-15(7/16/96): Judge serving as member of judicial evaluation committee of a civic organization.

Opinion No. 96-19 (9/16/96): Non-candidate judge featured as the speaker at a county Lincoln Day Dinner promoted by a political party.

Opinion No. 98-2 (4/8/98): Propriety of a judge signing and circulating the nominating petitions of another judicial candidate.

Opinion No. 98-3 (4/8/98): Candidate using "Judge" on political advertising.

Opinion No. 98-6 (4/8/98): Judge writing a letter to the editor finding a judicial candidate "qualified."

Opinion 98-15 (9/9/98): The ability of a judicial candidate to continue to serve on a major party's county central committee as well as membership on the board of directors of a political action committee.

Other Materials on Judicial Campaign Ethics

Communicating With Voters: Ethics and Judicial Campaign Speech, published by The American Judicature Society and the State Justice Institute. Study materials on rules in states across the nation on ethical judicial campaign conduct, by the American Judicature Society and the State Justice Institute – not binding in Illinois but informative and containing court precedents from other states on judicial election issues.

Higher Ground Standards of Conduct for Judicial Candidates: The Constitution Project – not binding in Illinois, but informative re. efforts to create guidelines for higher standards of judicial election conduct.

American Bar Association ABA Standing Committee on Judicial Independence, Standards on State Judicial Selection – not binding in Illinois, but informative re. national bar association higher standards of judicial election conduct. You can download the standards (to find them, scroll to the bottom of the Commission's homepage on the ABA Web site.)

Ethical Campaign Practices for Illinois Judicial Candidates: As judicial elections become more "political,'' candidates sometimes lose sight of their special ethical obligations. Meanwhile, disciplinary agencies across the country are cracking down on election misconduct. This article describes the ethical limits imposed on Illinois judicial candidates.

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