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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 14-2350



[ 207 PA. CODE CH. 51 ]

Amendment of Rules Governing Standards of Conduct of Magisterial District Judges; No. 377 Magisterial Rules Doc.

[44 Pa.B. 7169]
[Saturday, November 15, 2014]


Per Curiam

And Now, this 31st day of October, 2014, It Is Ordered pursuant to Article V, Section 10 of the Constitution of Pennsylvania that Rules 4.1, 4.2, 4.3 and 4.4 of the Rules Governing Standards of Conduct of Magisterial District Judges are amended in the following form.

 To the extent that notice of proposed rulemaking would otherwise be required by Pa.R.J.A. No. 103, the immediate promulgation of the amendments is found to be in the interests of justice and efficient administration.

 This Order shall be processed in accordance with Pa.R.J.A. No. 103(b), and the amendments herein shall be effective December 1, 2014.

Annex A




Canon 4. A magisterial district judge or candidate for judicial office shall not engage in political or campaign activity that is inconsistent with the independence, integrity, or impartiality of the judiciary.

Rule 4.1. Political and Campaign Activities of Magisterial District Judges and Judicial Candidates in General.

 (A) Except as permitted by Rules 4.2, 4.3, and 4.4, a magisterial district judge or a judicial candidate shall not:

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 (6) use or permit the use of campaign contributions for the private benefit of the judge or others;

(7) personally solicit or accept campaign contributions other than through a campaign committee authorized by Rule 4.4;

[(7)] (8) use court staff, facilities, or other court resources in a campaign for judicial office;

[(8)] (9) knowingly or with reckless disregard for the truth make any false or misleading statement;

[(9)] (10) make any statement that would reasonably be expected to affect the outcome or impair the fairness of a matter pending in any court;

[(10)] (11) engage in any political activity on behalf of a political organization or candidate for public office except on behalf of measures to improve the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice; or

[(11)] (12) in connection with cases, controversies or issues that are likely to come before the court, make pledges, promises, or commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of judicial office.

 (B) A magisterial district judge or judicial candidate shall take reasonable measures to ensure that other persons do not undertake, on behalf of the magisterial district judge or judicial candidate, any activities prohibited under paragraph (A).


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Pledges, Promises, or Commitments Inconsistent with Impartial Performance of the Adjudicative Duties of Judicial Office

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 (8) Rule [4.1(A)(11)] 4.1(A)(12) makes applicable to both magisterial district judges and judicial candidates the prohibition that applies to magisterial district judges in Rule 2.10(B), relating to pledges, promises, or commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of judicial office.

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 (11) Judicial candidates may receive questionnaires or requests for interviews from the media and from issue advocacy or other community organizations that seek to learn their views on disputed or controversial legal or political issues. Paragraph [(A)(11)] (A)(12) does not specifically address judicial responses to such inquiries. Depending upon the wording and format of such questionnaires, candidates' responses might be viewed as pledges, promises, or commitments to perform the adjudicative duties of office other than in an impartial way. To avoid violating paragraph [(A)(11)] (A)(12), therefore, candidates who respond to media and other inquiries should also give assurances that they will keep an open mind and will carry out their adjudicative duties faithfully and impartially if elected. Candidates who do not respond may state their reasons for not responding, such as the danger that answering might be perceived by a reasonable person as undermining a successful candidate's independence or impartiality, or that it might lead to frequent disqualification. See Rule 2.11.

Rule 4.2. Political and Campaign Activities of Judicial Candidates in Public Elections.

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General Considerations

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 (2) Despite paragraph (B) and (C), judicial candidates for public election remain subject to many of the provisions of Rule 4.1. For example, a candidate continues to be prohibited from soliciting funds for a political organization, knowingly making false or misleading statements during a campaign, or making certain promises, pledges, or commitments related to future adjudicative duties. See Rule 4.1(A), paragraphs (4) and [(11)] (12), and Rule 4.2(C), paragraph (3).

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Statements and Comments Made During a Campaign for Judicial Office

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 (7) Judicial candidates are sometimes the subject of false, misleading, or unfair allegations made by opposing candidates, third parties, or the media. For example, false or misleading statements might be made regarding the identity, present position, experience, qualifications, or judicial rulings of a candidate. In other situations, false or misleading allegations may be made that bear upon a candidate's integrity or fitness for judicial office. As long as the candidate does not violate paragraphs (C)(3) or (C)(4), or Rule 4.1, paragraph [(A)(11)] (A)(12), the candidate may make a factually accurate public response. In addition, when an independent third party has made unwarranted attacks on a candidate's opponent, the candidate may disavow the attacks, and request the third party to cease and desist.

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Rule 4.3. Activities of Candidates for Appointive Judicial Office.

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 When seeking support or endorsement, or when communicating directly with an appointing or confirming authority, a candidate for appointive judicial office must not make any pledges, promises, or commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of the office. See Rule [4.1(A)(11)] 4.1(A)(12).

Rule 4.4. Campaign Committees.

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 (1) Judicial candidates are prohibited from personally soliciting campaign contributions or personally accepting campaign contributions. See Rule 4.1(A)(7). This Rule recognizes that in Pennsylvania, judicial campaigns must raise campaign funds to support their candidates, and permits candidates, other than candidates for appointive judicial office, to establish campaign committees to solicit and accept reasonable financial contributions or in-kind contributions.

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[Pa.B. Doc. No. 14-2350. Filed for public inspection November 14, 2014, 9:00 a.m.]

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