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Court News Ohio

Board of Professional Conduct Issues Advisory Opinion on Judges in Parades

The Board of Professional Conduct issued an advisory opinion concerning the permissibility of judges appearing in community parades.

In Advisory Opinion 2017-8, the board concludes that a judge may appear in a community parade, regardless of whether the parade is held in an election year. A judge is not barred by the Code of Judicial Conduct from appearing in a parade in a non-election year, even if the activity may be considered “campaigning.”

Judges generally are encouraged by the Code of Judicial Conduct to participate in community activities. However, participation is only permitted if it will not undermine the independence, integrity, or impartiality of the judge.  For that reason, the opinion recommends that a judge consider the nature and purpose of the organization sponsoring a parade before agreeing to participate. Participation in a parade organized by a group that practices discrimination is prohibited by the Code of Judicial Conduct. Participation in a parade sponsored by an entity that is promoting a particular position on a controversial issue may later call into question the judge’s impartiality in cases involving the same issue.

The opinion further advises that judges avoid the appearance of a political endorsement by not walking with or riding in a parade with non-judicial candidates. The same advice applies to appearing with officeholders with whom the judge may frequently interact, including prosecutors and sheriffs, because of the potential for eroding judicial independence and impartiality.

The opinion withdraws former Advisory Opinion 1993-09.

Advisory Opinions of the Board of Professional Conduct are nonbinding opinions in response to prospective or hypothetical questions regarding the application of the Supreme Court Rules for the Government of the Bar of Ohio, the Supreme Court Rules for the Government of the Judiciary, the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct, the Ohio Code of Judicial Conduct, and the Attorney’s Oath of Office

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