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SCOPE

[1] The Utah Code of Judicial Conduct consists of fourCanons, numbered Rules under each Canon, and Comments that generally follow andexplain each Rule. Scope and Terminology sections provide additional guidancein interpreting and applying the Code. An Application section establishes whenthe various Rules apply to a judge or judicial candidate.

[2] The Canons state overarching principles of judicialethics that all judges must observe. Although a judge may be disciplined onlyfor violating a Rule, the Canons provide important guidance in interpreting theRules. Where a Rule contains a permissive term, such as ?may? or ?should,? theconduct being addressed is committed to the personal and professionaldiscretion of the judge or candidate in question, and disciplinary action shallnot be taken for action or inaction within the bounds of such discretion.

[3] The Comments that accompany the Rules serve twofunctions. First, they provide guidance regarding the purpose, meaning, andproper application of the Rules. They contain explanatory material and, in someinstances, provide examples of permitted or prohibited conduct. Commentsneither add to nor subtract from the binding obligations set forth in theRules. Therefore, when a Comment contains the term ?must,? it does not meanthat the Comment itself is binding or enforceable; it signifies that the Rulein question, properly understood, is obligatory as to the conduct at issue.

[4] Second, the Comments identify aspirational goals forjudges. To implement fully the principles of this Code as articulated in theCanons, judges should strive to exceed the standards of conduct established bythe Rules, holding themselves to the highest ethical standards and seeking toachieve those aspirational goals, thereby enhancing the dignity of the judicialoffice.

[5] The Rules of the Utah Code of Judicial Conduct arerules of reason that should be applied consistent with the law and with dueregard for all relevant circumstances. The Rules should not be interpreted toimpinge upon the essential independence of judges in making judicial decisions.

[6] Although the black letter of the Rules is binding andenforceable, it is not contemplated that every transgression will result in theimposition of discipline. Whether discipline should be imposed should bedetermined through a reasonable and reasoned application of the Rules, andshould depend upon factors such as the seriousness of the transgression, thefacts and circumstances that existed at the time of the transgression, theextent of any pattern of improper activity, whether there have been previousviolations, and the effect of the improper activity upon the judicial system orothers.

[7] The Code is not designed or intended as a basis forcivil or criminal liability. Neither is it intended to be the basis forlitigants to seek collateral remedies against each other or to obtain tacticaladvantages in proceedings before a court.