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Court Ethics

Twelve Tenets

A fair and independent court system is essential to the administration of justice in a democratic society. Proper conduct by court employees inspires public confidence and trust in the courts, and conveys the values of impartiality, equity, and fairness that bring integrity to the court’s world. To advance these values and to achieve justice we believe certain moral principles should govern all that we do.

We therefore commit ourselves to these twelve tenets:

  1. Provide impartial and evenhanded treatment of all persons;
  2. Demonstrate the highest standards of personal integrity, honesty, and truthfulness in all professional and personal dealings, avoiding the misuse of court time, equipments, supplies, or facilities for personal business;
  3. Behave toward all persons with respect, courtesy, and responsiveness, acting always to promote public esteem in the court system;
  4. Safeguard confidential information, both written and oral, unless disclosure is authorized by the court, refusing ever to use such information for personal advantage, and abstain at all times from public comment about pending court proceedings, except for strictly procedural matters;
  5. Refrain from any actual impropriety, such as:
    • breaking the law
    • soliciting funds on the job
    • receiving gifts or favors related to court employment
    • accepting outside employment that conflict with the court’s duties, or
    • recommending private legal service providers
  6. Avoid any appearance of impropriety that might diminish the honor and dignity of the court;
  7. Serve the public by providing procedural assistant that is as helpful as possible without giving legal advice;
  8. Furnish accurate information as requested in a competent, cooperative, and timely manner;
  9. Improve personal work skills and performance through continuing professional education and development;
  10. Guard against and, when necessary, repudiate any act of discrimination or bias based on race, gender, age, religion, national origin, language, appearance, or sexual orientation;
  11. Renounce any use of positional or personal power to harass another person sexually or in any other way based on that person’s religious beliefs, political affiliation, age, national origin, language, appearance, or their personal choices and characteristics; and
  12. Protect the technological property of the court by preserving the confidentiality of electronically stored information and abstain from personal use of court computer systems and hardware.

A code of ethics cannot possibly anticipate every moral dilemma and ethical choice that may arise in the execution of one’s day-to-day professional responsibilities. Personal discretion in the interpretation of the Code of Ethics is both necessary and desirable. We who believe in it will continue to try to cultivate the moral sensibilities that will inform and enliven our consciences and make us true servants of justice.

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