The North Carolina Judicial Branch and the Judicial Standards Commission join the nation in celebrating National Ethics Awareness Month during March by promoting the importance of judicial ethics to public confidence in our courts. Judicial Branch employees are also being encouraged to take advantage of the many educational, training, and advisory resources available to them to ensure continued dedication to ethical conduct and professionalism within the Judicial Branch.
“Article I, Section 18 of the North Carolina Constitution requires that ‘right and justice shall be administered without favor, denial, or delay.’ Having a judiciary that is bound to the highest ethical standards is essential to serving those ends,” said Chief Justice Paul Newby. “We applaud our judges for their faithful adherence to these lofty ideals. Public trust and confidence begins with a judiciary grounded in integrity.”
The North Carolina Code of Judicial Conduct helps guide judges not only in the administration of justice, but provides standards of conduct for judges as role models and leaders in the legal profession. Judges and Judicial Branch employees are expected to adhere to the highest standards of integrity and professionalism to maintain strong relationships with each other, the public, and our community partners.
North Carolina Judicial Standards Commission
The North Carolina Judicial Standards Commission was established in 1973 to consider complaints against judges of the state’s General Court of Justice and, where appropriate, to make recommendations for discipline for the following:
- District court judges
- Superior court judges
- Appellate court judges and justices
The offices of commissioner and deputy commissioner of the North Carolina Industrial Commission are also under the jurisdiction of the North Carolina Judicial Standards Commission.
“The Commission works to protect the integrity of the judicial process and to preserve public confidence in state judicial proceedings," said Judge Chris Dillon, chair of the Judicial Standards Commission. “Increasing awareness on the part of both the judiciary and the public as to the ethical obligations of judges under the Code of Judicial Conduct is integral to our mission.”
In addition to its authority to review and investigate complaints of judicial misconduct, the Commission also serves as the judicial ethics advisory committee with respect to the Code of Judicial Conduct and is authorized to provide formal and informal advisory opinions regarding application of the Code to specific situations. Commission staff also provides education and training on ethics issues throughout the year for judges, court staff and other groups interested in learning more about the Code of Judicial Conduct.
“Although the Commission serves as a disciplinary agency, we are fortunate that we have a dual role in also providing education and advice for judges and commissioners across the state,” said Carolyn Dubay, executive director of the Judicial Standards Commission. “It is always uplifting to talk to judges and see firsthand how seriously they take their ethical duties.”
In honor of National Ethics Awareness Month, North Carolina judges will be receiving a number of helpful “ethical tips” this month to address some of the most common issues asked of the Commission.