N.C. Code of Judicial Conduct
Adopted September 26, 1973
With amendments received through April 17, 1998
Canon 5. A judge should regulate his extra-judicial activities to minimize the risk of conflict with his judicial activities.
- Avocational Activities. A judge may write, lecture, teach, and speak on non-legal subjects, and engage in the arts, sports, and other social and recreational activities, if such avocational activities do not detract from the dignity of his office or interfere with the performance of his judicial duties.
- Civic and Charitable Activities. A judge may participate in civic and charitable activities that do not reflect adversely upon his impartiality or interfere with the performance of his judicial duties. A judge may serve as an officer, director, trustee, or non-legal advisor of an educational, religious, charitable, fraternal, or civic organization not conducted for the economic or political advantage of its members, subject to the following limitations:
- A judge should not serve if it is likely that the organization will be engaged in proceedings that would ordinarily come before him or will be regularly engaged in adversary proceedings in any court.
- A judge should not solicit funds for any educational, religious, charitable, fraternal, or civic organization, or use or permit the use of the prestige of his office for that purpose, but he may be listed as an officer, director, or trustee of such an organization.
- A judge should not give investment advice to such an organization, but he may serve on its board of directors or trustees even though it has the responsibility for approving investment decisions.
- Financial Activities.
- A judge should refrain from financial and business dealings that tend to reflect adversely on his impartiality, interfere with the proper performance of his judicial duties, exploit his judicial position, or involve him in frequent transactions with lawyers or persons likely to come before the court on which he serves.
- Subject to the requirements of subsection (1), a judge may hold and manage investments, including real estate, and engage in other remunerative activity, but should not serve as an officer, director, manager, advisor, or employee of any business.
- A judge should manage his investments and other financial interests to minimize the number of cases in which he is disqualified. As soon as he can do so without serious financial detriment, he should divest himself of investments and other financial interests that might require frequent disqualification.
- Neither a judge nor a member of his family residing in his household should accept a gift, bequest, favor, or loan from anyone except as follows:
- A judge may accept a gift incident to a public testimonial to him; books supplied by publishers on a complimentary basis for official use; or an invitation to the judge and his spouse to attend a bar-related function or activity devoted to the improvement of the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice.
- A judge or a member of his family residing in his household may accept ordinary social hospitality; a gift, bequest, favor, or loan from a relative; a wedding or engagement gift; a loan from a lending institution in its regular course of business on the same terms generally available to persons who are not judges; or a scholarship or fellowship awarded on the same terms applied to other applicants;
- A judge or a member of his family residing in his household may accept any other gift, bequest, favor, or loan only if the donor is not a party or other person whose interests, have come or are likely to come before him, and, if its value exceeds $100, the judge reports it in the same manner as he reports compensation in Canon 6C.
- For the purposes of this section "member of his family residing in his household" means any relative of a judge by blood or marriage, or a person treated by a judge as a member of his family, who resides in his household.
- A judge is not required by this Code to disclose his income, debts, or investments, except as provided in this Canon and Canons 3 and 6.
- Information acquired by a judge in his judicial capacity should not be used or disclosed by him in financial dealings or for any other purpose not related to his judicial duties.
- Fiduciary Activities. A judge should not serve as the executor, administrator, trustee, guardian, or other fiduciary, except for the estate, trust, or person of a member of his family, and then only if such service will not interfere with the proper performance of his judicial duties. "Member of his family" includes a spouse, child, grandchild, parent, grandparent, or other relative or person with whom the judge maintains a close familial relationship. As a family fiduciary a judge is subject to the following restrictions:
- He should not serve if it is likely that as a fiduciary he will be engaged in proceedings that would ordinarily come before him, or if the estate, trust, or ward becomes involved in adversary proceedings in the court on which he serves or one under its appellate jurisdiction.
- While acting as a fiduciary a judge is subject to the same restrictions on financial activities that apply to him in his personal capacity.
- Arbitration. A judge should not act as an arbitrator or mediator. However, an emergency justice or judge of the Appellate Division designated as such pursuant to Article 6 of Chapter 7A of the General Statutes of North Carolina, and an Emergency Judge of the District Court or Superior Court commissioned as such pursuant to Article 8 of Chapter 7A of the General Statutes of North Carolina may serve as an arbitrator or mediator when such service does not conflict with or interfere with the justice's or judge's judicial service in emergency status.
- Practice of Law. A judge should not practice law.
- Extra-judicial Appointments. A judge should not accept appointment to a governmental committee, commission, or other position that is concerned with issues of fact or policy on matters other than the improvement of the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice. A judge, however, may represent his country, state, or locality on ceremonial occasions or in connection with historical, educational, and cultural activities.
Canon 7. A judge should refrain from political activity inappropriate to his judicial office.
- Political Conduct in General.
- A judge or candidate for election to judicial office should not:
- act as a leader or hold any office in a political party or any subdivision thereof. For example, he may not attend a political convention on any level as a delegate, nor may he preside or serve as an officer. He may attend any political party meeting, provided he does not violate any other Canon, particularly 7A(1)(b) or (c).
- make speeches in support of a political party or candidate for public office or publicly endorse a candidate for public office.
- Solicit funds for a political organization or candidate other than as permitted under Canon 7B (2).
- Make financial contributions to any candidate for public office, including a candidate for a judgeship, unless the candidate is a member of the judge's or judicial candidate's family.
- A judge holding an office filled by public election between competing candidates, or a candidate for such office, may attend political gatherings, speak to such gatherings, identify himself as a member of a political party, and contribute to a political party or organization.
- A judge should resign his office when he becomes a candidate either in a party primary or in a general election for a non-judicial office, except that he may continue to hold his judicial office while being a candidate for election to or serving as a delegate in a state constitutional convention if his is otherwise permitted by law to do so.
- The foregoing provision of Canon 7A do not prohibit a judge's spouse or any other adult member of his family from engaging political activity provided the spouse or other family member acts in accordance with his or her individual convictions, on his or her own initiative, and not as alter ego of the judge.
- The foregoing provisions of Canon 7A do not prohibit candidates for judicial office from conducting a joint campaign, soliciting support for, endorsing or financially contributing to other judicial candidates.
- Campaign Conduct
- A candidate, including an incumbent judge, for a judicial office that is filled by public election between competing candidates:
- should maintain the dignity appropriate to judicial office, and should encourage members of his family to adhere to the same standards of political conduct that apply to him;
- should prohibit public officials or employees subject to his direction or control from doing fo rhim what is prohibited from doing under this Canon; and except to the extent authorized under subsection B(2) or B(3), he should not allow any other person to do for him what is prohibited from doing under this Canon;
- should not make pledges or promises of conduct in office other than the faithful and impartial performance of the duties of the office; nor misrepresent his identity, qualifications, present position, or other fact.
- A candidate, including an incumbent judge, for a judicial office that is filled by public election between competing candidates should not solicit campaign funds but may establish committees of responsible persons to secure and manage the expenditure of such funds. Such committees are not prohibited from soliciting campaign contributions from anyone not otherwise prohibited by law from making such contributions or from soliciting public support from anyone. A candidate should not use or permit the use of campaign contributions for the private benefit of himself or members of his family.
- An incumbent judge who is a candidate for retention in or re-election to office without a competing candidate, and whose candidacy has drawn active opposition, may campaign in response thereto and may obtain publicly stated support and campaign funds in the manner provided in subsection B(2). (Amended December 30, 1974; further amended March 16, 1976; further amended May 25, 1997, effective September 1, 1997; further amended Februrary 17, 1998.)