The Judicial Conference of the United States today adopted a revised Code of Conduct for United States Judges that will take effect July 1, 2009, the first substantial Code revision since 1992. At its biannual meeting, the Conference also voted to ask Congress to create 63 new federal judgeships — 12 in the courts of appeals (nine permanent and three temporary) and 51 in the district courts (38 permanent and 13 temporary).
In voting to adopt the revised Code of Conduct, the Conference condensed what had been seven rules, or canons, to five, and reworded the language accompanying each canon into plainer, clearer English.
The revised Code builds on the dictate in Canon 1 that judges should uphold the integrity and independence of the Judiciary.
In Canon 2, which states judges should “avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities,” the revised Code for the first time offers a definition of the “appearance of impropriety.” It states: “An appearance of impropriety occurs when reasonable minds, with knowledge of all the relevant circumstances disclosed by a reasonable inquiry, would conclude that the judge’s honesty, integrity, impartiality, temperament, or fitness to serve as a judge is impaired.”