Rule 11-301. Utah Standards ofJudicial Professionalism and Civility.
Judgesare tasked with the important responsibility of presiding over adversarialjudicial proceedings. In such proceedings the rights, responsibilities,liberties, and even lives of the parties may hang in the balance. And in lightof these high stakes, conflict and tension are inevitable?to some degree evenexpected in a system that depends on an element of adversariness in the searchfor truth and justice.
Evenin the adversary process, we expect the parties and their counsel to followbasic principles of civility and professionalism. In Utah, our Standards ofProfessionalism and Civility represent our attempt to articulate thoseprinciples for members of the Utah Bar. The standards below state a parallelset of principles for the judiciary.
Ourjudges should aspire to a high level of professionalism and civility in theperformance of their judicial responsibilities. When judges displayunprofessional or uncivil conduct, they undermine the goal of securing equaljustice for all under the law. Conversely, when judges model civil andprofessional behavior, the system they preside over is elevated as all participantsin the process are inevitably impacted by those who oversee it.
Thegeneral aspiration for professionalism and civility is only a beginning. Thataspiration raises important questions regarding the nature of the judge?s rolein a system in which conflict and tension are inevitable and in which the judgemay be called upon to make difficult determinations involving guilt, individualresponsibility, credibility, state of mind, and relative culpability.
Theaspiration for professionalism and civility in the judiciary must be temperedby the occasional need for a judge to stand up to obstinacy or insubordinationwith sharpness and even severity. In some instances a party?s behavior orposition cannot appropriately be dealt with through docility and good cheer. Attimes it will be the proper role of a judge, as the voice of the law in theface of a party?s blatant disregard of it, to come down harshly. In a criminalproceeding involving a convicted child sex abuser who refuses to acknowledgeresponsibility, for example, a judge may properly find it necessary to utterthe unmistakably grave terms of chastisement?with a goal of awakening thedefendant to the need to seek help and make fundamental changes. Alternatively,in a juvenile court matter in which an abusive or neglectful parent is the rootsource of an adolescent?s legal problems, a judge may determine that the onlypath to a lasting resolution of the matter is to employ the terms and tone ofausterity. And judges generally are called upon to make determinations ofcredibility; that core responsibility cannot be shunned because it might have atendency to offend.
Theaspiration for professionalism and civility must also leave room for a range ofpersonalities and temperaments among our judges. The judicial function isperformed by individual human beings with discretion to apply the law to newfacts. Judges must be permitted to do so in a manner consistent with theirindividual temperament and personality. Our standards are not intended toprescribe a single orthodoxy of temperament or personality.
Thestandards below seek to balance these competing objectives. They establish somebright lines that should never be crossed, regardless of a judge?s temperamentor personality and even in the most difficult circumstances. And theydistinguish appropriate exercises of sharpness or severity (those with a duepurpose in law, in the rules of procedure, or in the judge?s efforts tomaintain order and decorum) from those that are merely gratuitous (lacking anyproper basis, and employed out of personal spite or animosity).
Thesestandards are aspirational. They are not intended to prescribe legal standardsto be invoked in litigation or as a basis for sanctions or penalties to beimposed against judges (except insofar as they may merely reiterate standardsprescribed elsewhere that establish an independent basis for sanctions).
(1)Judges will refrain from manifesting or acting upon racial, gender, or otherimproper bias or prejudice toward any participant in the legal process.
(2)Judges will not use language in oral or written communications, orders, oropinions that is vulgar orprofane (except to the extent necessary to describe the facts or background ofa case) or that gratuitously demeans or humiliates an attorney, litigant,witness, or another judge, recognizing, however, that judges are sometimesexpected to stand up to obstinacy or insubordination with sharpness and evenseverity, and that the difficult legal or factual determinations they make mightproduce a demeaning or humiliating effect on a participant in the judicialprocess.
(3)Judges will not disparage the integrity, motives, intelligence, morals, ethics,or personal behavior of an attorney, litigant, witness, or another judge exceptin circumstances where such matters are in furtherance of a judge?sresponsibilities or are otherwise relevant under the governing law or rules ofprocedure. Judges will not impugn the integrity or professionalism of anylawyer on the basis of the client or cause which the lawyer represents.
(4)Judges will avoid impermissible ex parte communications.
(5)Judges will not adopt procedures aimed at delaying the resolution ofproceedings before them or at compounding litigation expenses unnecessarily.
(6)Judges will endeavor to begin judicial proceedings on time and to providereasonable notice if necessary to apprise the parties, recognizing thatcircumstances beyond the judge?s control may impact the goal of punctuality.
(7)Judges will give issues in controversy thoughtful and impartial analysis andconsideration, recognizing the corresponding prerogative and responsibility topromote their just, speedy, and inexpensive resolution.
(8)Judges will recognize that a party has a right to a fair and impartial hearing,and a right to present its cause within the limits established by law. Judgeswill allow lawyers or parties, within reasonable time limits, to present properarguments and to make a complete and accurate record.
(9)In all legal proceedings, judges will direct parties, attorneys, and otherparticipants to refrain from uncivil conduct. Judges who observe uncivilconduct or receive a reliable report of uncivil conduct will take correctiveaction as the judge deems appropriate.
(10)Judges will cooperate with other judges to ensure the successful management ofthe court as a system as well as the judge?s individual docket.