Code tells judges not to ask for sex
A model code of conduct for state and local judges spells out, for the first time, that they are not to engage in such conduct as “sexual advances, requests for sexual favors” and the like.
Ethics watchdogs and women’s groups pushed for language that was more specific, but they said they welcomed special recognition of a persistent problem.
The code, last revised in 1990, could be adopted today at the American Bar Assn. meeting in Miami.
Women who complain about harassment by judges, the groups say, too often meet with indifference or hostility from the judges’ colleagues and state commissions that are supposed to police judges’ behavior.
“Why is this necessary? The things that go on are quite astounding,” said Lynn Hecht Schafran, director of the National Judicial Education Program, a collaboration of women judges and Legal Momentum, a women’s rights group.
The code is not binding but is considered a model for individual states adopting rules for disciplining their judges.
It covers a range of conduct, including ethical behavior for judicial candidates, when judges may accept gifts, and in what instances they should disqualify themselves from hearing cases.