JUDGES AND ELECTIONS

June 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

Today municipal general elections are being held across Mississippi.

In the weeks (and months) leading up to this heated election in Meridian, I have been asked whether I would attend this rally or that for this candidate or that. I have been asked why I did not attend a campaign event. I have been solicited for a campaign donation. None of this was sinister, in my opinion, or intended to apply pressure.

So I thought it might be helpful for those of you out there who are involved in politics to point out some of the restrictions that limit how judges can be involved in the election process.

Judges can …

  • Vote.
  • Discuss candidates, election issues, and personal positions with friends and family.

Judges can not …

  • Act as a leader or hold an office in a political organization.
  • Make speeches for a political organization or candidate or publicly endorse a candidate for public office
  • Solicit funds for or pay an assessment or make a contribution to a political organization or candidate, attend political gatherings, or purchase tickets for political party dinners, or other political functions.
  • Engage in any political activity except as authorized under any other Section of this Code, on behalf of measures to improve the law, the legal system or the administration of justice, or as expressly authorized by law.

Those principles apply in all elections, including judicial elections. There are some additional restrictions on judicial candidates.

Judges also are prohibited from commenting on matters that might come before them, which could arise from election disputes, political issues, constitutional challenges, and the like. So you might find your local judge mum when the conversation turns to some of the hot-button topics of the day.

You can read the Code of Judicial Conduct here.

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