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About the Commission

On September 23, 2003, American Bar Association President Dennis W. Archer Jr. announced the appointment of a Joint Commission to Evaluate the Model Code of Judicial Conduct, chaired by Mark I. Harrison of Phoenix, to review the ABA's model ethics code for judges and to recommend revisions for possible adoption in February, 2007.

"Judicial ethics are not static," said Archer, announcing the new commission. "It has been 12 years since the ABA took a good, hard look at the code to see if it provides adequate guidance to judges about their conduct, and to the public about what to expect from judges.

In the meantime, judges are facing growing pressures from interest groups participating in the judicial election process and initiatives in Congress that would restrict judicial independence, and other factors are coming into play that can bear on the conduct of judges performing their duties in office."

The Commission will hold public hearings across the country in 2004-2005. Harrison said he plans to issue a preliminary report for comment in June 2005, and a final report for consideration by the ABA House of Delegates in February, 2007. Information on the Commission's work, including hearing schedules and written testimony, is posted here at the Commission web site, along with further information about Commission members. The project is funded by a grant from The Joyce Foundation.

A more detailed history of the origins of the Commission has been set forth in a background paper: "For almost a century, the American Bar Association has been a national leader in defining the parameters of legal and judicial ethics. Early in the Association’s history, members recognized the necessity for ethical guidelines for the practicing bar. In 1908, the ABA approved the first Canons of Professional Ethics for attorneys. These canons did not cover members of the judiciary and resolutions for judicial canons were presented both in 1909 and in 1917, but were not adopted. In 1922, the ABA appointed a commission on judicial ethics, chaired by Chief Justice William Howard Taft, to draft a code of judicial conduct...    Read More