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Bloggers to ABA: Whaaa?

An American Bar Association commission's proposal to weaken the code of judicial conduct is finding no support within the legal blogosphere. As reported Tuesday by Adam Liptak in The New York Times, the proposal would change from a mandatory rule to nonbinding advice the instruction that judges "avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety." The proposal caused one adviser to the panel to tender his immediate resignation.

"What in the world is the American Bar Association thinking?" asks a befuddled Andrew Cohen at Bench Conference.

"At a time when judges of all stripes all over the country are under concerted political assault, organizations like the ABA ought to be tightening restrictions upon inappropriate judicial conduct-- ought to be proactive in helping convince a shaky public that the tiny majority of judges who flaunt the rules can and will be punished."

That pretty well sums up the sentiment of legal bloggers. Jonathan Adler at The Volokh Conspiracy says that, although the existing standard is sometimes difficult to apply, "it serves as a helpful prophylactic," and its "application to specific instances is faciliated by the accumulation of precedent." At Objective - Justice, Sean Sirrine writes: "I am at a loss as to why they think it would be a good idea to remove the potential of discipline of judges for abusing their discretion." And at Legal Profession Blog, S. Alan Childress writes that "the ABA will have come full circle if it makes this change."

The ABA considers the proposal at its midyear meeting this week in Miami. For more on the proposed change, see the ABA's online media kit covering the issue. Then check back here and leave a comment saying what you think.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on February 8, 2007 at 05:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

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