State High Court Ethics Committee Calls for Comments on Judges Database Searches for Non-Criminal Matters – The Vacaville Reporter



A judicial ethics committee of a state’s Supreme Court seeks public input on whether a judge can search the court’s electronic case management systems for certain information in non-criminal cases.

A press release from the California Courts Newsroom said the state’s High Court Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee released an updated draft notice for public comment on Wednesday after reviewing a previous round of comments on whether, in a non-criminal case, a judge can seek the case from the court. management system for “information concerning a party, a lawyer or the facts relevant to the case before the judge”.

The new public comment period will run until August 30 and can be submitted by email to [email protected], or by mail to the California Supreme Court Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions, 350 McAllister St., San Francisco, CA 94102.

All comments submitted may be posted on the CJEO’s website,, for public review, unless they are clearly marked as confidential.

CJEO’s Draft Formal Opinion 2021-016, which can be viewed on the website, describes what case management systems typically are and provides guidance on: 1) permissible case management system searches and unauthorized, or CMS; 2) Authorized searches that produce incorrect information; and 3) Considerations for Disqualification and Disclosure Following Inadvertent Review of Inappropriate Information.

“The draft opinion recognizes that judges are expected to use and use CMS research to help them perform their judicial functions,” said Merrill Balassone, who wrote the prepared statement. “The California Code of Judicial Ethics, however, prohibits the use of a CMS to independently investigate jurisdictional facts, unless the investigation is authorized by law or the information is subject to review. ‘a judicial opinion. “

The draft opinion advises judges to use a CMS “with the knowledge” that the search results might include information about a judgment or decision, and they should try to avoid reviewing that information “unless ‘they are not legally authorized or judicially visible,’ added Balassone.

For judges who inadvertently review court records or other information containing information about a formal judgment in a contentious case as part of an otherwise authorized search in the case management system, the draft opinion is theirs. advises to consider whether: 1) They are authorized by law or required to examine the information; 2) The information they have consulted raises a real or reasonable doubt as to its impartiality; or 3) They must disclose the CMS research and information reviewed and give parties an opportunity to respond.

“We have listened to the valuable public comments we have received on our previous draft opinion on this topic and have significantly changed our approach with a new draft opinion,” said CJEO President Judge Ronald B. Robie of the Third District Court of Appeal. “We look forward to comments on this deliberative work, including from those who have commented previously.”

The CJEO is a 12-member advisory committee that includes appeal judges, trial judges and commissioners. The committee is appointed and authorized by the California Supreme Court, but its work is independent of the California court and the Judicial Council. The committee provides formal, informal, and expedited advisory opinions on appropriate judicial conduct in accordance with the California Code of Judicial Ethics and other authorities. Its opinions are in the interest of the judiciary and the public, noted Balassone.


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