Ethics Codes USA
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With just a few exceptions, the list below tries to concentrate on ethics codes, codes of conduct, and canons written for non-judicial or administrative court employees.  The national directories published by the ABA and Cornell for example are heavily weighted toward codes for judges and attorneys rather than non-judicial court employees.  If any states or jurisdictions have adopted codes for non-judicial court staff not listed here, we would be happy to publish them.  Please e-mail or mail copies to Karl Thoennes at the address shown on the Contacts page.

Recent additions: Ft. Peck Tribal Court (Montana) - Code of Ethics for Court Clerks; North Carolina - Code for Family Court Clerks; Kentucky - Drug Court Employees Code of Ethics; Kaw Nation Tribal Court (Oklahoma) - Rules and Code of Ethics for the Court; Florida - Code of Ethics for Court Staff, 8th Circuit; added December 2012.

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United States.  In October 2007 the National Association for Court Management (NACM) adopted a new Model Code of Conduct for Court Professionals.  The 2007 model code was also endorsed by the Conference of State Court Administrators soon after.  The 2007 version replaced NACM's original Model Code of Conduct adopted around 1989/1990.

 

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United States (all 50 States).  The American Bar Association publishes a comprehensive state-by state list of ethics codes, professional conduct codes, ethics enforcement structures, and ethics advisory opinions primarily for attorneys and judges.  The list also includes a few codes or canons for court staff, paralegals, and others.

 

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United States (all 50 States).   American Judicature Society, Model Code of Conduct for Nonjudicial Court Employees.   The AJS Model Code was developed in the late 1980's and a very close version was adopted by the Conference of State Court Administrators in 1993 (see below).  Even though the AJS Model Code is relatively old now, it's still a very useful reference, contains a lot of the central components of ethics codes for court employees, and was pretty ground-breaking or foundational at the time.  If AJS ever changes or withdraws the preceding link, a Word version is archived here.

 

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United States (all 50 States).  Cornell Law School's American Legal Ethics Library publishes a catalog of canons, codes, opinions, and ethics enforcement structures in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  However, the materials do concentrate on ethics for judges and attorneys and generally do not include codes for administrative or clerical court employees. 

 

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United States, Federal Court.   Code of Conduct for Judicial Employees, adopted by the (federal) Judicial Conference in 1995, effective 1996.

 

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United States, Conference of State Court Administrators. Model Code of Conduct for Nonjudicial Court Employees Adopted c. 1993.  Based on the AJS Model Code.  Thanks to The Ethics Fieldbook: Tools for Trainers, Cynthia Kelly Conlon and Lisa Milord, American Judicature Society/State Justice Institute, for reprinting the COSCA model code in the appendix to their work (1996).

 

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United States, Court Reporters.  Code of Professional EthicsAdopted by the National Court Reporter's Association.

 

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United States.  The American Bar Association's Model Code of Judicial Conduct includes provisions that apply to non-judicial court employees through the judges.  The American Bar Association adopted a substantially revised Model Code, including a supervisory section that refers to court staff.  There was significant debate about the revision at the time, and even years later, not all states have adopted the revisions.  The  section on judicial supervision of court staff appears as Rule 2.12 Supervisory Duties.

 

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Alaska [tribal court].  Tanana Valley Chiefs Conference, Chapter Seven on Judicial Ethics, compiled by the Chiefs Conference and Lisa Jaeger, Fairbanks, Alaska 2002.  Includes an oath and ethics code that specifically applies to both judges and court employees.  The University of Oklahoma Law Library and the National Indian Law Library of the Native American Rights Fund have published an extensive collection of tribal court documents and references on their site, including this one.  

 

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Arizona.  Arizona's Code of Conduct for Court Employees (1997) can be found on the National Center for State Court's nationwide index (found on the "Ethics Links" page on this website) or by clicking on this link.  Arizona's Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee also published an ethics advisory opinion on charitable activities of judges and court/administrative employees which can be found at this link.

                

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California

          Glenn Superior Court, 12 tenets for court employees.

Ethics for Court Employees, adopted 1994; same as Glenn Superior Court but also includes a series of guidelines for each tenet.

 

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Colorado.  Colorado does not have an ethics code for court employees, but like many states, its personnel rules do address a number of ethics and conduct issues.  For example, the Colorado Judicial System Personnel Rules address outside employment and political activity in Part 5.

 
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Connecticut.  Thanks very much to Martin Libbin, Deputy Director of Legal Services for the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch for sending us the materials for Connecticut.  If you click this link you'll find a set of ethics-related documents for the courts in Connecticut.  The set includes Ethics and Conduct for Judicial Marshals, an Employee Conduct human resources policy for Court Support Services, a dress code for court employees in general, a secondary employment request form, and sections from the Administrative Policy and Procedures Manual, 602 Code of Ethics, and 603 Receipt of Gifts.  (Connecticut also sent their interpreter code, which appears separately on the Interpreter page on this website.)  The pdf document is 819KB, so the download may take a minute depending on your connection speed.

 

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Delaware.   Delaware Code of Conduct for Court Employees.  Adopted January 1998, by Supreme Court Directive No. 115.

 
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Florida.

Fifteenth Judicial Circuit, Palm Beach.  This is a 1992 order simply adopting the American Judicature Society's Model Code for non-judicial court employees in the 15th Circuit.  A commentary and the latest version of the AJS model code for court employees can be found at this link.

Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, Broward County.  Adopted March 10, 2004.  This ethics code is actually an excerpt from the Clerk of Court's Procurement Code. 

Disclosure of Financial Interests and Clients represented before Agencies 2007 Florida Statute.

Code of Ethics, Seminole County, Clerk of the Circuit Court.  If the first link doesn't work, the file is also saved at this link

Code of Ethics for Court Staff, 8th Judicial Circuit, Gainesville, adopted 2000.

 

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Ft. Peck Tribal Court, Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes (Montana).  Code of Ethics for Court Clerks   The Tribes' general website can also be found at this link:  Fort Peck Tribal Court.

 
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Georgia. This is the code of ethics for Georgia Municipal Court Clerks. If this link is broken, you can also find this information at this link.
 

 
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Guam.  Code of Conduct for Non-Judicial Court EmployeesAdopted 1996 by the Guam Judicial Council.

 
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Idaho. Idaho Judicial Branch Employee Conduct taken from the Idaho Judicial Branch Employee Handbook. 

Idaho Professional Ethics taken from the Idaho Clerk of District Court Manual.

 
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Illinois (Cook County/Chicago).  Code of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook CountyThanks again to The Ethics Fieldbook: Tools for Trainers by AJS referenced above.  This code was just in proposed, revised form, not yet finally adopted, in 1996 when The Fieldbook reprinted this code in its appendix.

Model Code of Professional Conduct for Illinois Probation/Court Services Employees (PDF form)

 

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Iowa, Court Employee Code of Ethics (.pdf file), adopted or revised February 2006.

 

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Kansas.   Code of Ethics for Court Services (Probation) Officers.  Dated August 1998, although that may not be the date of adoption.   This link used to go to www.kscourts.org/cso/ but that website is either broken or has been withdrawn as of February 2008.

 

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Kaw Nation Tribal Court (Oklahoma).   A summary of the ethics code for judges and court employees can be found at this web page: Rules & Code of Ethics for the Court but a more extensive, full version of the code can be found here: Kaw Tribal Court Ethics.pdf   This code has an interesting section on technology (last page). 

 

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Kentucky.  Drug Court Employee Code of Ethics(Adopting a separate or specialized code of ethics for drug court employees may be a common practice lately, but this is the first example we've found so far.)

 

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Louisiana. Code of Governmental Ethics  In the event that this link is broken, this information can also be found here. (PDF).

 

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Maine.  State of Maine, Judicial Branch, Code of Conduct.

 

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Maryland.  Code of Ethics for Circuit Court Clerks, and Rules of Conduct for District Court Clerks.  Thanks to Peter Kiefer for submitting this copy.  [No date is indicated on the Code of Ethics; the Rules of Conduct are dated 1998.  The scan quality of this .pdf file is not the best.  A cleaner copy will be posted soon.]  

Policy on Standards of Conduct, State of Maryland Judiciary  Adopted or issued December 2005.  Also posted on the Maryland Court website at this link.  Contains many of the same typical elements as a code of conduct for court employees, but appears to be drafted a little more closely in the form of a personnel policy; for example, the website link is posted in the Maryland Courts' human resource (HR) policy directory.

Code of Ethics for Employees of the Maryland Courts.  DRAFT only; this document is only a draft and has not been adopted as of February 2007.  Largely based on California's format listed above.  Not sure what relationship this draft has to the Policy on Standards of Conduct posted above.

 

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Massachusetts. Massachusetts Conflict of Interest Law contains the rules of conduct for state, county, and municipal employees.  This can also be found online by clicking here.

Massachusetts Financial Disclosure Law requires certain state, county, and municipal employees to file their financial interest statements with the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission.  This can also be found online by clicking here.

 

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Michigan. 

(State) Model Code of Conduct for Court EmployeesAdopted 2000, published by the Michigan Judicial Institute.  Model code with commentary and definition section.  Very nice, clear format.

(Professional Association)  Michigan Uniform Code of Conduct for Court Managers and Administrators Adopted by the Michigan Court Administrators' Association.

(Tribal Court) Code of Ethical Conduct for Judges, Court Personnel, Lawyers, and Lay AdvocatesAdopted by the Bay Mills Indian Community Tribal Court, Brimley, Chippewa County, Michigan as Tribal Court Rule 105.2.  Scroll down to Section 2.201 through 2.206 for the sections applying to court employees.

 

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Minnesota.  Court Employee Code of Ethics Adopted April 2006.  Thanks to Peter Kiefer and Jan Cossette for this reference.

 

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Montana.  Employee Code of Conduct (Word document).  Adopted 2002, as a section within the Montana Judicial Branch/Personnel Policies and Procedures.

 

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Nebraska.  Nebraska's Code of Judicial Conduct adopted 1992.  This is a 48-page very detailed code of judicial conduct generally (but not entirely) based on the American Bar Association's (ABA's) Model Code.  It is included here because like Washington below, Nebraska's code applies by extension to court employees "subject to the judge's direction and control."  

 

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New Jersey.  Code of Conduct for Judiciary Employees   This (archived) 2008 version is more extensive than the New Jersey Code of Conduct posted here previously, and includes commentaries and a list of advisory opinions on a number of topics and questions.  Thanks very much to Beth Urban, Court System HR director in South Dakota for this reference.  This code was initially adopted in December 1993, amended March 1999, and last revised in 2008.  As of 2012, the code is also published at this link by the New Jersey Courts: Code of Conduct for Judiciary Employees.

 

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New Mexico.  Employee Policy & Code of ConductAdopted by the Fifth Judicial District Court in Roswell, New Mexico, January 2005.  

 

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New York.  Rules Governing Conduct of Non-Judicial Court Employees.  Updated or dated November 2005, cited as 22 NYCRR 50.01 (New York Codes, Rules & Regulations) 

Here is a link to a more complete set of Rules Governing Conduct of Non-Judicial Court Employees, as well as standards and administrative policies regarding Financial Disclosure by Judges and Non-Judicial Employees and the Establishment of an Ethics Commission.

 

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Nevada.    Model Code of Conduct for Judicial EmployeesAdopted or last revised March 2004, by the Judicial Council of the State of Nevada.  May or may not be approved for use in all jurisdictions.  Thanks very much to Michael Bell, Manager of the Judicial Education Division for the Administrative Office of the Court in Carson City, Nevada.   

 

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Nooksak Indian Tribe (near Bellingham, Washington).  This one isn't exactly an ethics code, but the tribe has published a short but refreshingly clear and straightforward statement on the duties of a court clerk, including a clerk's ethical duties.  The tribe's website can be found at this link or view the statement itself in this Word document.

 

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North Carolina.  Model Code of Conduct for Family Court StaffNot sure about the date of adoption, but the document was originally published on the web in February 2010.

 

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North Dakota.  Code of Conduct for Judicial Employees  Adopted by the ND Supreme Court as  Judicial Branch Policy 100, February 2008. 

 

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Ohio (Supreme Court).   Employee Code of Ethics.  Thanks very much to Rick Dove, Director of Attorney Services for the Ohio Supreme Court.  Rick sent this note with the code: "[This is] a copy of the Employee Code of Ethics adopted by the Supreme Court of Ohio for its employees (we are not a unified state so the Code applies only to Supreme Court employees, although some local courts have adopted their own codes/policies).  We have had a conduct code since at least 1990, and the attached is the most recent version adopted by the Court in 2003.  We also conduct a half-day new employee orientation program that includes a 20 minute overview of this Code, the state ethics law (applicable to all government employees and officials), and the Code of Professional Responsibility (for employees who are lawyers).

 

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Oregon.  Ethics Code, Oregon Association for Court Management (OACA); included as part of the OACA Bylaws.  Last updated 2003.  The Code of Conduct begins on page 11.  (OACA's code is based on NACM's first Code of Conduct adopted around 1990.)

 

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Pennsylvania.  Code of Conduct for Employees of the Unified Judicial System   Adopted by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in October 2010.  This is an interesting code for a few reasons.  Contains most of the same topic areas as many other codes, but also contains some interesting variations, for example, the political activity section includes a dissent from some members of the Supreme Court.  Also contains a relatively rare provision requiring personal financial statements from court employees, like New York.

 

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South Dakota.  Unified Judicial System Personnel Rules Adopted 1998.  Like a number of other states, South Dakota has not adopted an ethics code specifically for court employees although its personnel rules do contain a number of provisions typically found in ethics codes.  Scroll down to page 93, Chapter 9, "Conduct,"  for sections on nepotism, political activity, outside employment, etc.

South Dakota Court Services Ethical Guidelines - These guidelines were recently revised in March of 2007.

Finally, even though they refer to judges rather then general court employees, because South Dakota statutes or rules on judicial ethics are sometimes difficult to find through regular online searches we have included the South Dakota Code of Judicial Conduct and the Appendix to SDCL Chapter 16-1A. The appendix to Chapter 16-1A which includes the Rules of Procedure of the Judicial Qualifications Commission, Rule IV on Judicial Elections, including the Special Committee on Judicial Elections; and Rule VI, on the Judicial Ethics Committee created in 2006.  These references are current as of September 2008.

 

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Texas.  El Paso County.   Code of Ethics, Community Justice Assistance Division (CJAD).  This one isn't really a code of conduct for court employees specifically -- CJAD is a division of the Texas Department of Law, and the code focuses on probation officers who provide services to the court.  You'll see, however, that a lot of the language in the code would apply to court employees in general, and still fits pretty well in this catalog of court-related codes.

 

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Utah.

Utah Judicial Employee Ethics - This is a link to a list of ethical scenarios that deal with issues such as receiving gifts, giving legal advice, favoritism, and many others that are used for employee ethics education and training. 

Code of Personal Conduct - This code of personal conduct was taken from Utah's Human Resource Policy.

 

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Washington (State).  Court Rules; Code of Judicial Conduct.  It appears that Washington has generally adopted the ABA's model Code of Judicial Conduct in its rules; this judicial ethics code is listed here because like a lot of states it contains the ABA's model language that applies judicial ethics codes to court staff, "Judges should be patient, dignified, and courteous...and should require similar conduct of lawyers, and of the staff, court officials, and others subject to their direction and control."  Thanks to Frank Maiocco, Court Administrator in Kitsap County, for this reference.  The version linked here now was last revised or adopted January 1, 2011.

 

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Wisconsin.  Listed here, in PDF form, is the Wisconsin Court System Code of Ethics taken from the Wisconsin Court System Employee Manual.