2016 Updates To CJA Judges’ Ethical Code

California Judges Association pic

California Judges Association
Image: caljudges.org

A former judge with Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland, California, Paul Seeman possesses more than 30 years of experience as an attorney, court commissioner, and judge. As a judge, Paul Seeman was a member of a number of professional organizations, including the Juvenile Court Judges of California, a committee of the California Judges Association (CJA).

Founded in 1966, the CJA is a non-profit organization that strives to expand public understanding of judicial impartiality and its importance. The January 2016 Judicial Ethics Update offered a new overview of ethical questions spurred by recent occurrences.

In the area of disclosure and disqualification: judges sitting on the appellate division should recuse themselves if they have knowledge that a judgment could financially benefit a colleague.

Reporting responsibilities: Should a judge overhear a private conversation that accuses a party of lying, he or she is not required to report a crime. Under such circumstances, the judge has the same responsibility as a civilian.

Media commentary: In media interviews, judges may address the general issues of mentally ill defendants and the court system but may not discuss any specific cases.

Gifts and discounts: A judge may accept the presentation of a fruit basket from the professor of a class to which the judge was invited to speak. Such instances are examples of basic hospitality.


Program Offerings at the 2015 NLADA Annual Conference


Image: nlada.org/

Paul Seeman, a former Alameda County Superior Court judge, amassed more than three decades of legal experience before retiring in 2013. Throughout his time with Alameda County, Paul Seeman held a number of positions, including roles as vice-chair of the California Center for Judicial Education and Research (CJER) Juvenile Law Education Committee and as faculty at the CJER Continuing Judicial Studies Program. Judge Seeman was also took part as faculty in the National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA) Annual Conference in 2009.

Held each November, the NLADA annual conference serves as a “skills-building and knowledge-sharing event” for professionals in the fields of legal aid, public defense, and public interest law. The 2015 installment of the event, entitled “Advancing Justice Together,” took place in New Orleans.

At the four-day event, a variety of workshops and training sessions were made available to participants. These offerings were divided into categories to simplify individual program selection. Board-related meetings included an information session on LSC (legal services corporation) restrictions and a talk on how to recruit, retain, and engage board members.

Civil legal aid programs accounted for much of the conference schedule, which included sessions about developing positive working relationships with journalists, and unaccompanied minor immigrants. The NLADA event also accommodated clients who have received assistance from legal aid organizations in the past. These individuals could attend sessions about the NLADA website and client voice.

Sessions geared toward legal defenders encompassed diverse topics such as efforts in the realm of human sex trafficking and improving language access. Finally, the event offered a selection of fundraising-related sessions about accessing federal funding,and legal services for survivors of crime.