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Welcome to a continuously developing website on ethics and ethics codes for court employees.  We hope you find this site helpful in your research, development, and training in court ethics and ethics codes.  

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In 1994 Peter Kiefer began writing a column called "A Question of Ethics" in The Court Manager, a quarterly publication by the National Association for Court Management.  Karl Thoennes joined Peter in writing alternating columns in 1999, and colleague and fellow court manager Frank Maiocco from the courts in Washington State became one of the regular ethics columnists in 2010.  For years we have been studying, writing, and speaking on ethics and ethics codes for court employees and managers.  As this website shows, dozens of court systems, organizations, commissions, educational institutions and others are working in the same areas.  However, we haven't yet found a central catalog or comprehensive reference list of ethics codes and training resources concentrating primarily on clerical and administrative employees of the courts who are neither judges nor attorneys.  


This project is one step in assembling an organized catalog of ethics codes, canons, and training resources from courts in the United States and around the world primarily for non-judicial court employees. Certainly there are many ways to organize a catalog like this.  We welcome suggestions on how we might organize the content more efficiently.  For now, the site is purposely structured to respond to questions we often hear in our ethics work, for example:

We're planning a training session on ethics.  What do we do?  What resources or training programs are out there?

We're trying to write an ethics code for court employees.  Can you give us some examples of codes adopted elsewhere?

We're dealing with a particular ethics issue.  How have other courts addressed the same issue?

Avoiding Duplication

You'll see from the links on this site that a number of organizations have already assembled comprehensive lists or summaries of (usually) judicial and attorney conduct codes and enforcement mechanisms.  Cornell Law School's state-by-state summary on the "Links" page is a good example.  Therefore, with just a few exceptions this site concentrates on presenting those links instead of duplicating others' work.  Where we have assembled lists or cataloged documents, it's usually only when we haven't been able to find similar references collected elsewhere.

International Codes

Entirely separate from the recent American debate on citing foreign law in pending cases, the world is becoming a smaller place and ethical issues can and do arise in different jurisdictions in remarkably similar ways.  Ethics codes are also an active topic not only in the United States but on a global level, and many of us involved in court ethics have been invited overseas or have been active in various ways in comparative ethics codes.  Therefore, this site also includes a section on ethics codes in other countries and internationally as well as in the United States. 

Updates and Archiving

We always appreciate emails and other messages about corrections and updates to the documents and links cataloged on this site.  Although we check for broken links periodically, this site has now grown to the point where maintaining all the materials is a constant challenge.  We always welcome correction and update messages.  One other note -- because this site is intended not only as a current reference catalog but to also serve an archiving or historical purpose, we often keep earlier copies or versions of codes and references on file.  If you are looking for an earlier version of a particular document or reference, please feel free to send a message -- we may have it.

An Invitation

Finally, we eagerly invite any suggestions, questions, or further discussion on court ethics codes and issues from anyone interested in the topic.  We're especially be interested in ethics codes or canons that aren't already published elsewhere in the Internet.  Please feel free to mail or e-mail them in any format to the following address, and we'll be happy to publish them here.

Karl Thoennes, Court Administrator

2nd Judicial Circuit

425 N. Dakota Avenue

Sioux Falls, SD  57104

Phone: 605-367-5920

Fax: 605-367-5979

e-mail: karl.thoennes@ujs.state.sd.us


Thanks for visiting the site.  This page was last updated on 12/10/12.

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