Court Ethics: Applying the Codes in Changing Times Karl Thoennes Peter Kiefer - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Court Ethics: Applying the Codes in Changing Times Karl Thoennes Peter Kiefer

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  1. Court Ethics: Applying the Codes in Changing Times Karl Thoennes Peter Kiefer National Association for Court Management Mid-Year Conference Tuesday, February 7, 2012 1 of 31

  2. Presentation Objectives • Become familiar with ethics codes • Show that ethics codes are important • Discuss the ethics of practical situations • Discuss how to make ethics codes more relevant • Have Fun 2 of 31

  3. Are Ethics Important? 3 of 31

  4. Are Ethics Important? 4 of 31


  5. Has our perception the courts changed since “To Kill a Mocking Bird” premiered in 1962? Do the two clips accurately depict that changing perception?  What role do we as court professionals have in countering that perception? Are Ethics Important? 5 of 31

  6. A fair and independent court system is essential to the administration of justice in a democratic society. Proper conduct by court employees: inspires public trust and confidence in the courts; and conveys impartiality, equity, fairness, and integrity; Are Ethics Important? 6 of 31

  7. Scenario: 1Betty’s Sister 7 of 31

  8. Betty’s SisterCodes MINNESOTA JUDICIAL BRANCH POLICY (Minnesota Policy) Article I.  C. Abuse of Position and Conflict of Interest Employees shall act so that they are not unduly affected or appear to be affected by kinship, position, or influence of any party or person. 8 of 31

  9. Betty’s SisterCodes Minnesota Policy Article I.  K. Abuse of Position and Conflict of Interest Employees shall not give legal advice. 8 of 31

  10. Betty’s SisterCodes NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR COURT MMANAGEMENT MODEL CODE OF CONDUCT FOR COURT PROFESSIONALS (NACM Model Code) Canon 1.2 - Avoiding Impropriety Members shall act so that they are not unduly affected or appear to be affected by kinship, position, or influence or any party or person. 9 of 31

  11. Betty’s SisterCodes AMERICAN JUDICATURE SOCIETY MODEL CODE OF CONDUCT FOR NONJUDICIAL COURT EMPLOYEES (AJS Model Code) Section III (A) – Conflict of Interest . . . every court employee is required to exercise diligence in becoming aware of conflicts of interest, disclosing conflicts to the designated authority and ending them when they arise. 10 of 31

  12. Betty’s SisterCodes AJS Model Code Section V (F) – Performance of Duties No court employee shall give legal advice or recommend the names of private attorneys. 11 of 31

  13. Betty’s SisterQuestions • Has anyone ever experienced something like this? • Does Betty have an ethical dilemma? • What can we do for people like Delores? • What should the court have done to make it easier for Betty to have done the right thing? 12 of 31

  14. Scenario: 2Supervisor’s Dilemma 13 of 31

  15. 26 of 31

  16. The Supervisor’s DilemmaCodes Minnesota Policy Article VI. A.Duty to Report Employees shall disclose to MJC or District Administration, Human Resources and the Appointing Authority any arrests, criminal charges, or criminal convictions on the next business day following the arrest, criminal charge, or conviction; or as soon as practicable. 15 of 31

  17. The Supervisor’s DilemmaCodes NACM Model Code Canon 2.3: Misconduct of Others A court professional shall report to the appropriate authority the behavior of any court professional who violates this code including, but not limited to, potential conflicts of interest involving one’s duties and attempts to inappropriately influence one in performing one’s duties. 16 of 31

  18. The Supervisor’s DilemmaCodes AJS Model Code Section Five (h): Performance of Duties Every court employee shall immediately report violations of this Code to the appropriate designated authority. 17 of 31

  19. The Supervisor’s Dilemma Questions • Does Dan have a point since he waited for Dale to tell Phil King? • Is this just an HR rules issue or is there an ethical issue involved? • What options does Phil King have? 18 of 31

  20. Scenario: 3Defriending Mr. King 19 of 31

  21. 26 of 31

  22. Defriending Mr. KingCodes Minnesota Policy Article IV Release of News Information No personnel rule is intended to restrict the rights of an individual employee to comment as a private citizen on a public matter.  However, all media requests for information on Judicial Branch business should be referred to a supervisor or an employee designated to respond to such requests. 21 of 31

  23. Defriending Mr. KingCodes Minnesota Policy Article V Performance of Duties Employees shall avoid any activity that would reflect adversely on their position or court.   22 of 31

  24. Defriending Mr. KingCodes NACM Model Code Canon 1.2 Avoiding Impropriety A court professional shall avoid activities that would impugn the dignity of the court. 23 of 31

  25. Defriending Mr. KingCodes NACM Model Code Canon 2.7 Discretion A court professional shall be respectful of litigants, the public, applicants and employees’ personal lives; disregard information that legally cannot or should not otherwise be considered; use good judgment in weighing the credibility of Internet data; and be cautious about verifying identities. 26 of 31

  26. Defriending Mr. KingCodes NACM Model Code Canon 2.7 Discretion (Continued) A court professional shall treat personal or sensitive information with the same discretion that one would wish others to have if one were involved in a similar case. 27 of 31

  27. Defriending Mr. KingCodes AJS Model Code Section Six (D): Court Managers Court managers shall take action regarding any unethical conduct of which they may become aware, initiating appropriate disciplinary measures against an employee for any such conduct and reporting to appropriate authorities evidence of any unethical conduct by judges or lawyers. 28 of 31

  28. Defriending Mr. KingQuestions • Does making disparaging remarks on the social network truly qualify as an ethical question? • Do courts have the right to look on the social network for employee comments? • Do courts have the right to dictate what employees can have on their social networking sites? 2 of 31

  29. Why Do This? • The Integrity of the Judicial Branch • More than Just Personnel Rules • Not Just Right or Wrong Answers • Your Job to Make the Code Relevant 30 of 31

  30. A Final Word “Ethics are not laws.  They are not imposed by the state.  Rather, they are norms, values, beliefs, habits, and attitudes that are embraced voluntarily – that we as a society impose on ourselves.  Laws regulate behavior from the outside in.  Ethics regulate behavior from the inside out.  Ethics are something you carry with you wherever you go to guide whatever you do.”  Thomas L. Friedman “For every problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong. H. L. Menken 31 of 31