- Support For Proposed Amendments to Canon 3B(9)
and Commentary of the Code of Judicial Ethics
Hon. Richard Fybel
Chair of the Supreme Court Advisory Committee on the Code of Judicial Ethics
California Court of Appeal
601 West Santa Ana Blvd.
Santa Ana, CA 92701
Re: Proposed Amendments to Canon 3B(9) and Commentary of the Code of Judicial Ethics
Dear Justice Fybel,
I support the proposed amendments to Canon 3B(9) and Commentary of the Code of Judicial Ethics. The proposed amendments are vitally needed to help preserve public confidence in the judiciary and to ensure basic fairness in judicial elections.
For judges facing recall or a contested election, the ability to respond to false and biased information concerning an unpopular decision simply restores a level playing field in a situation where dissatisfied litigants can say or post anything about a given case, regardless of the truth. The proposed amendments would allow a targeted judge to respond directly, and just as importantly, would also permit other judicial officers to respond to unfair criticism of a colleague.
The recall of Judge Persky from Santa Clara County need only be examined to see the pernicious effects of holding a judge mute in the face of repeated and widespread attacks on a single lawful decision made without bias. His inability to respond directly to the criticism created the perfect storm in the echo chamber of social media. Indeed, so unfair was the criticism he faced, that even after his removal from office, he was prohibited from a second, non-legal career. These proposed amendments begin to address the inequity of a contested election or recall where criticism focuses on a single unpopular decision which is not yet final.
The 2020 judicial election season is already well underway. The proposed effective date of the Canon amendments is April 1st, 2020, which will be after the primary elections which will decide many, but not all of the 2020 judicial elections. Presumably, if the amendments are approved, the November elections will be measurably fairer for targeted judges and allow the public to make informed decisions unlike the case of Judge Aaron Persky.
I applaud the Supreme Court Advisory Committee on the Code of Judicial Ethics for putting forth these proposed amendments for comments and support the proposed amendments as written.
Yours very truly,