Accusing an American Bar Association panel of secretly watering down judicial ethics rules, the administrator of the New York Commission on Judicial Conduct has resigned in protest from an ABA advisory council.
In a resignation letter released Monday, Robert H. Tembeckjian objected strenuously to what he said is a plan to diminish the thrust of an ethics precept that says judges should "avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety." Tembeckjian said the ABA would make a "monumental mistake" if, as proposed, it relegates the "impropriety and appearance of impropriety" provision to an unenforceable guideline.
Currently, under the Model Code of Judicial Conduct, which many states use as a template for their own rules, judges who violate the provision are subject to disciplinary action. But a revision inserted into a updated code and slated for consideration by the ABA next week would change that so the "impropriety and appearance of impropriety" admonition would no longer constitute a rule. Rather, it would simply be a guideline.
Read full text of article by John Caher via NY Law Journal.