Today, Circuit Judge Mary Noble, who is challenging Fletcher-appointee and current Supreme Court Justice John Roach, for the 5th District Supreme Court seat, unilaterally raised the ethical bar on herself by spelling out specific guidelines her campaign will follow concerning contributions and conduct, and challenged John Roach and others to do the same.
In light of the questions looming over the actions of Chief Justice Lambert concerning illegal straw contributions and the recent stories regarding Justice Roach's fundraising, Judge Noble's remarks should be applauded.
In fact, Justice Roach, and all other judicial candidates, should be demanded to detail what specific ethical standards they will use to govern their conduct as candidate and as judge. There is too much at stake for our judiciary to operate with dark ethical clouds hovering over it.
Judge Noble's leadership for raising these issues should be commended.
Here are excerpts from her remarks:
I believe judges should be held to a higher standard as is set out in the Code of Judicial Conduct. Those who are empowered to make judgments, while human, must set a good example, in both their private and professional life.
The public loses faith in the court system, and the rule of law, when judges are viewed a biased or unfair, or politically partisan. Judicial races are, and must be, non partisan.
When it comes to judicial races, it is true that attorneys are the best informed about the candidates, and have the strongest interest in seeing that good judges are elected, because they work with the judges.
This is why it is not illegal or unethical under the Code for attorneys to contribute to judicial races, even when they practice in front of the candidate. By far, most of the judicial campaign money comes from attorneys. There is no public funding for judicial races. And if only candidates who are wealthy enough to fund their entire campaign could run, many great judges could not run.
But these contributions can create the appearance of influence, or at least raise a question about it, as happened with my opponent last week.
I am raising the bar by voluntarily imposing a higher standard on my campaign finance activities. This is how my campaign will do it:
* I will not ask what has been contributed, or even who has contributed, or look at contribution lists. My campaign finance committee will handle all fund raising efforts, and will thank donors on my behalf.
* All my campaign events will be open to anyone who wants to attend whether they are able to make a financial campaign contribution or not, just as this one was this morning. Other candidates are welcome to attend my campaign events, even though they can not make a financial contribution. If invited, I may attend their events as a candidate, not a supporter.
* If I know that an attorney who has a case pending before me has make a contribution, I will disclose it, and allow motions to proceed from there.
This isn't a perfect solution, but it is a good faith effort to balance reality and any appearance of impropriety. I thank you for your vote. I am the Supreme Court candidate who will always guard against impropriety and thee appearance of it. I will always act in a manner that invites trust and respect for the Courts. I have been decent, hardworking, respectful of everyone, fair and independent for over fourteen years as a Fayette Circuit Judge, and will do the same once I serve you on the Supreme Court.
Source: Bluegrass Report