Following a petition from the state bar association, the Tennessee Supreme Court has adopted a revised set of ethics rules for Tennessee judges, particularly involving their recusals.
Adopted revisions to the Code of Judicial Conduct, which is Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 10, will take effect on July 1, according to a spokeswoman with the Administrative Office of the Courts. Among the principal changes to the code is the addition of a new procedure for pursuing the recusal of a judge as well as a new process for seeking an expedited appeal if a motion for recusal is denied.
It was a petition filed by the Tennessee Bar Association that prompted the process of adopting the new ethics code, and it was a 13-member task force of attorneys and judges that developed the bar associations proposed rule changes.
That led to the state Supreme Court filing the bar’s proposed rule changes for public comment in March, after which the court held oral arguments in December to discuss some of the issues in the TBA’s proposed rule.
Under the new procedures, if a judge denies a motion for recusal the judge must provide in writing the grounds for denying such motion. The new rules also outline the process in which a new judge is appointed when a recusal is granted.
Also, when a recusal is denied a new process has been established to expedite that appeal process, allowing an appeal to be filed within 15 days of the judge’s ruling.
The rules changes eliminate the ability for judges to make contributions to political campaigns or political organizations, but judges are allowed to purchase tickets to attend campaign events.
The court also adopted a new provision, modeled after American Bar Association rules, regarding the disability and impairment of a judge or attorney. The new rule instructs judges to take “appropriate action,” such as referral to a lawyer or judicial assistance program, if a judge suspects another judge or attorney is impaired by drugs, alcohol, or other physical, mental or emotional condition.
The new Code of Judicial Conduct, along with the TBA’s proposed amendments and comments from the public, are available online at www.tncourts.gov.
|Rule 10 Order 1-04-12.pdf||3.53 MB|