Michigan Code of Judicial Conduct

Canon 1 
A Judge Should Uphold the Integrity and Independence of the Judiciary 
An independent and honorable judiciary is indispensable to justice in our society. A 
judge should participate in establishing, maintaining, and enforcing, and should 
personally observe, high standards of conduct so that the integrity and 
independence of the judiciary may be preserved. A judge should always be aware 
that the judicial system is for the benefit of the litigant and the public, not the 
judiciary. The provisions of this code should be construed and applied to further 
those objectives. 

Canon 2
A Judge Should Avoid Impropriety and the Appearance of Impropriety in 
All Activities 
A. Public confidence in the judiciary is eroded by irresponsible or improper conduct 
by judges. A judge must avoid all impropriety and appearance of impropriety. A 
judge must expect to be the subject of constant public scrutiny. A judge must 
therefore accept restrictions on conduct that might be viewed as burdensome by 
the ordinary citizen and should do so freely and willingly. 
B. A judge should respect and observe the law. At all times, the conduct and 
manner of a judge should promote public confidence in the integrity and 
impartiality of the judiciary. Without regard to a person's race, gender, or other 
protected personal characteristic, a judge should treat every person fairly, with 
courtesy and respect. 
C. A judge should not allow family, social, or other relationships to influence judicial 
conduct or judgment. A judge should not use the prestige of office to advance 
personal business interests or those of others. A judge should not appear as a 
witness in a court proceeding unless subpoenaed. 
D. A judge may respond to requests for personal references. 
E. A judge should not allow activity as a member of an organization to cast doubt 
on the judge's ability to perform the function of the office in a manner consistent 
with the Michigan Code of Judicial Conduct, the laws of this state, and the Michigan 
and United States Constitutions. A judge should be particularly cautious with regard 
to membership activities that discriminate, or appear to discriminate, on the basis 
of race, gender, or other protected personal characteristic. Nothing in this 
paragraph should be interpreted to diminish a judge's right to the free exercise of 
religion.

Canon 3
A Judge Should Perform the Duties of Office Impartially and Diligently 
The judicial duties of a judge take precedence over all other activities. Judicial 
duties include all the duties of office prescribed by law. In the performance of these 
duties, the following standards apply: 
A. Adjudicative Responsibilities: 
(1) A judge should be faithful to the law and maintain professional competence 
in it. A judge should be unswayed by partisan interests, public clamor, or fear of 
criticism. 
(2) A judge may require lawyers, court personnel, and litigants to be 
appropriately attired for court and should enforce reasonable rules of conduct in 
the courtroom. 
(3) A judge should be patient, dignified, and courteous to litigants, jurors, 
witnesses, lawyers, and others with whom the judge deals in an official 
capacity, and should require similar conduct of lawyers, and of staff, court 
officials, and others subject to the judge's direction and control. 
(4) A judge shall not initiate, permit, or consider ex parte communications, or 
consider other communications made to the judge outside the presence of the 
parties concerning a pending or impending proceeding, except as follows: 
(a) A judge may allow ex parte communications for scheduling, 
administrative purposes, or emergencies that do not deal with substantive 
matters or issues on the merits, provided: 
(i) the judge reasonably believes that no party or counsel for a party 
will gain a procedural or tactical advantage as a result of the ex parte 
communication, and  
(ii) the judge makes provision promptly to notify all other parties and 
counsel for parties of the substance of the ex parte communication and 
allows an opportunity to respond.  
(b) A judge may obtain the advice of a disinterested expert on the law 
applicable to a proceeding before the judge if the judge gives notice to the 
parties of the person consulted and the substance of the advice, and affords 
the parties reasonable opportunity to respond. 
(c) A judge may consult with court personnel whose function is to aid the 
judge in carrying out the judge's adjudicative responsibilities or with other 
judges. 
(d) A judge may, with the consent of the parties, confer separately with the 
parties and their lawyers in an effort to mediate or settle matters pending 
before the judge. 
(e) A judge may initiate or consider any ex parte communications when 
expressly authorized by law to do so. 
(5) A judge should dispose promptly of the business of the court. 
(6) A judge should abstain from public comment about a pending or impending 
proceeding in any court, and should require a similar abstention on the part of 
court personnel subject to the judge's direction and control. This subsection 
does not prohibit a judge from making public statements in the course of official 
duties or from explaining for public information the procedures of the court or 
the judge's holdings or actions. 
(7) A judge should prohibit broadcasting, televising, recording, or taking of 
photographs in or out of the courtroom during sessions of court or recesses 
between sessions except as authorized by the Supreme Court. 
(8) A judge may properly intervene in a trial of a case to promote expedition, 
and prevent unnecessary waste of time, or to clear up some obscurity, but the 
judge should bear in mind that undue interference, impatience, or participation 
in the examination of witnesses, or a severe attitude on the judge's part toward 
witnesses, especially those who are excited or terrified by the unusual 
circumstances of a trial, may tend to prevent the proper presentation of the 
cause, or the ascertainment of truth in respect thereto. 
Conversation between the judge and counsel in court is often necessary, but 
the judge should be studious to avoid controversies that are apt to obscure the 
merits of the dispute between litigants and lead to its unjust disposition. In 
addressing counsel, litigants, or witnesses, the judge should avoid a 
controversial manner or tone. 
A judge should avoid interruptions of counsel in their arguments except to 
clarify their positions, and should not be tempted to the unnecessary display of 
learning or a premature judgment. 
(9) A judge should adopt the usual and accepted methods of doing justice; 
avoid the imposition of humiliating acts or discipline, not authorized by law in 
sentencing and endeavor to conform to a reasonable standard of punishment 
and not seek popularity or publicity either by exceptional severity or undue 
leniency. 
(10) Without regard to a person's race, gender, or other protected personal 
characteristic, a judge should treat every person fairly, with courtesy and 
respect. To the extent possible, a judge should require staff, court officials, and 
others who are subject to the judge's direction and control to provide such fair, 
courteous, and respectful treatment to persons who have contact with the 
court. 
B. Administrative Responsibilities: 
(1) A judge should diligently discharge administrative responsibilities, maintain 
professional competence in judicial administration, and facilitate the 
performance of the administrative responsibilities of other judges and court 
officials.
(2) A judge should direct staff and court officials subject to the judge's control 
to observe high standards of fidelity, diligence, and courtesy to litigants, jurors, 
witnesses, lawyers, and others with whom they deal in their official capacity. 
(3) A judge should take or initiate appropriate disciplinary measures against a 
judge or lawyer for unprofessional conduct of which the judge may become 
aware. 
(4) A judge should not cause unnecessary expense by making unnecessary 
appointments. All appointments shall be based upon merit. 
(5) A judge should not approve compensation beyond the fair value of services 
rendered. 
C. Disqualification: 
A judge should raise the issue of disqualification whenever the judge has cause 
to believe that grounds for disqualification may exist under MCR 2.003(B). 
D. Remittal of Disqualification. 
A disqualification of a judge may be remitted as provided by MCR 2.003(D). 

Canon 4
A Judge May Engage in Activities to Improve the Law, the Legal System, 
and the Administration of Justice 
As a judicial officer and person specially learned in the law, a judge is in a unique 
position to contribute to the improvement of the law, the legal system, and the 
administration of justice, including revision of substantive and procedural law and 
improvement of criminal and juvenile justice. To the extent that time permits, the 
judge is encouraged to do so, either independently or through a bar association, 
judicial conference, or other organization dedicated to the improvement of the law. 
A judge, subject to the proper performance of judicial duties, may engage in the 
following quasi-judicial activities: 
A. A judge may speak, write, lecture, teach, and participate in other activities 
concerning the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice. 
B. A judge may appear at a public hearing before an executive or legislative 
body or official on matters concerning the law, the legal system, and the 
administration of justice, and may otherwise consult with such executive or 
legislative body or official on such matters. 
C. A judge may serve as a member, officer, or director of an organization or 
governmental agency devoted to the improvement of the law, the legal system, 
or the administration of justice. A judge may assist such an organization in 
raising funds and may participate in their management and investment, but 
should not individually solicit funds. A judge may make recommendations to 
public and private fund-granting agencies on projects and programs concerning 
the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice.

Canon 5
A Judge Should Regulate Extra-Judicial Activities to Minimize the Risk of 
Conflict With Judicial Duties 
A. Avocational Activities. A judge may write, lecture, teach, speak, and consult on 
nonlegal subjects, appear before public nonlegal bodies, and engage in the arts, 
sports, and other social and recreational activities, if such avocational activities do 
not detract from the dignity of the office or interfere with the performance of 
judicial duties. 
B. Civic and Charitable Activities. A judge may participate in civic and charitable 
activities that do not reflect adversely upon the judge's impartiality or interfere with 
the performance of judicial duties. A judge may serve as an officer, director, 
trustee, or nonlegal advisor of a bona fide educational, religious, charitable, 
fraternal, or civic organization, subject to the following limitations: 
(1) A judge should not serve if it is likely that the organization will be engaged 
in proceedings that would ordinarily come before the judge or will be regularly 
engaged in adversary proceedings in any court. 
(2) A judge should not individually solicit funds for any educational, religious, 
charitable, fraternal, or civic organization, or use or permit the use of the 
prestige of the office for that purpose, but may be listed as an officer, director, 
or trustee of such an organization. A judge may, however, join a general appeal 
on behalf of an educational, religious, charitable, or fraternal organization, or 
speak on behalf of such organization. 
C.Financial Activities. 
(1) A judge should refrain from financial and business dealings that tend to 
reflect adversely on the judge's impartiality or judicial office, interfere with the 
proper performance of judicial duties, exploit the judicial position, or involve the 
judge in frequent transactions with lawyers or persons likely to come before the 
court on which the judge serves. 
(2) Subject to the requirements of C(1), a judge may hold and manage 
investments, including real estate, and engage in other remunerative activity, 
but should not serve as director, officer, manager, advisor, or employee of any 
business. Provided, however, with respect to a judge holding office and serving 
as an officer, director, manager, advisor, or employee of any business not 
prohibited heretofore by law or judicial canon, the effective date of the 
prohibition contained herein shall be the date of expiration of the judge's 
current judicial term of office. 
(3) A judge should manage investments and other financial interests to 
minimize the number of cases in which the judge is disqualified. As soon as it 
can be done without serious financial detriment, the judge should dispose of 
investments and other financial interests that require frequent disqualification. 
(4) Neither a judge nor a family member residing in the judge's household 
should accept a gift, bequest, favor, or loan from anyone except as follows: 
(a) A judge may accept a gift or gifts not to exceed a total value of $100, 
incident to a public testimonial; books supplied by publishers on a 
complimentary basis for official use; or an invitation to the judge and 
spouse to attend a bar-related function or activity devoted to the 
improvement of the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice. 
(b) A judge or a family member residing in the judge's household may 
accept ordinary social hospitality; a gift, bequest, favor, or loan from a 
relative; a wedding or engagement gift; a loan from a lending institution in 
its regular course of business on the same terms generally available to 
persons who are not judges; or a scholarship or fellowship awarded on the 
same terms applied to other applicants. 
(c) A judge or a family member residing in the judge's household may 
accept any other gift, bequest, favor, or loan only if the donor is not a party 
or other person whose interests have come or are likely to come before the 
judge, and, if its value exceeds $100, the judge reports it in the same 
manner as compensation is reported in Canon 6C. 
(5) For the purposes of this section, "family member residing in the judge's 
household" means any relative of a judge by blood or marriage, or a person 
treated by a judge as a family member, who resides in the judge's household. 
(6) A judge is not required by this code to disclose income, debts, or 
investments, except as provided in this canon and Canons 3 and 6. 
(7) Information acquired by a judge in a judicial capacity should not be used or 
disclosed by the judge in financial dealings or for any other purpose not related 
to judicial duties. 
D. Fiduciary Activities. A judge should not serve as an executor, administrator, 
testamentary trustee, or guardian, except for the estate, testamentary trust, or 
person of a member of the judge's immediate family, and then only if such service 
will not interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties. As a family 
fiduciary, a judge is subject to the following restrictions: 
(1) A judge should not serve if it is likely that as such fiduciary the judge will be 
engaged in proceedings that would ordinarily come before the judge or if the 
estate, trust, or ward becomes involved in adversary proceedings in the court 
on which the judge serves or one under its appellate jurisdiction. 
(2) While acting as such fiduciary, a judge is subject to the same restrictions on 
financial activities that apply in the judge's personal capacity. 
E. Arbitration. A judge should not act as an arbitrator or mediator, except in the 
performance of judicial duties.
F. Practice of Law. A judge should not practice law for compensation except as 
otherwise provided by law. 
G. Extra-Judicial Appointments. A judge should not accept appointment to a 
governmental committee, commission, or other position that is concerned with 
issues of fact or policy on matters other than the improvement of the law, the legal 
system, or the administration of justice. A judge, however, may represent the 
country, state, or locality on ceremonial occasions or in connection with historical, 
educational, and cultural activities. 

Canon 6
A Judge Should Regularly File Reports of Compensation Received for QuasiJudicial and Extra-Judicial Activities and of Monetary Contributions 
A judge may receive compensation and reimbursement of expenses for the quasijudicial and extra-judicial activities permitted by this code, if the source of such 
payments does not give the appearance of influencing the judge in judicial duties or 
otherwise give the appearance of impropriety, subject to the following restrictions: 
A. Compensation. Compensation should not exceed a reasonable amount nor 
should it exceed what a person who is not a judge would receive for the same 
activity. 
B. Expense Reimbursement. Expense reimbursement should be limited to the 
actual cost of travel, food, and lodging reasonably incurred by the judge and, 
where appropriate to the occasion, by the judge's spouse. Any payment in 
excess of such an amount is compensation. 
C. Public Reports. A judge shall report the date, place, and nature of any 
activity for which the judge received compensation, and the name of the payor 
and the amount of compensation so received. The judge's report shall be made 
at least annually and shall be filed as a public document in the office of the 
State Court Administrator or other office designated by law. 

Canon 7
A Judge or a Candidate for Judicial Office Should Refrain From Political 
Activity Inappropriate to Judicial Office 
A. Political Conduct in General: 
(1) A judge or candidate for judicial office should not: 
(a) hold any office in a political party; 
(b) make speeches on behalf of a political party or nonjudicial candidate or 
publicly endorse a candidate for nonjudicial office. 
(2) A judge or candidate for judicial office may: 
(a) attend political gatherings;
(b) speak to such gatherings on the judge's own behalf or on behalf of other 
judicial candidates; 
(c) contribute to a political party. 
(3) A judge should resign the judicial office before becoming a candidate either 
in a party primary or in a general election for nonjudicial office. 
B. Campaign Conduct: 
(1) A candidate, including an incumbent judge, for a judicial office: 
(a) should maintain the dignity appropriate to judicial office, and should 
encourage family members to adhere to the same standards of political 
conduct that apply to the judge; 
(b) should prohibit public employees subject to the judge’s direction or 
control from doing for the judge what the judge is prohibited from doing 
under this canon; 
(c) should not make pledges or promises of conduct in office other than the 
faithful and impartial performance of the duties of the office. 
(d) should not knowingly, or with reckless disregard, use or participate in 
the use of any form of public communication that is false. 
(2) These provisions govern a candidate, including an incumbent judge, for a 
judicial office: 
(a) A candidate should not personally solicit or accept campaign funds, or 
solicit publicly stated support by improper use of the judicial office in 
violation of B(1)(c). A candidate may send a thank-you note to a 
contributor. 
(b) A candidate may establish committees of responsible persons to secure 
and manage the expenditure of funds for the campaign and to obtain public 
statements of support for the candidacy. 
(c) Such committees are prohibited from soliciting campaign contributions 
from lawyers in excess of $100 per lawyer, but may solicit public support 
from lawyers. It is not a violation of this provision for a committee, in 
undertaking solicitations that are not directed exclusively to lawyers but 
may in fact go to lawyers who are members of a group or found on a 
mailing list, to solicit more than $100 per person, provided that the 
following disclaimer appears on the letter or on a response card, in print 
that is at least the same size as the remainder of the print in the letter or 
the response card: 
"Canon 7 of the Michigan Code of Judicial Conduct prohibits a judicial 
campaign committee from soliciting more than $100 per lawyer. If you are 
a lawyer, please regard this as informative and not a solicitation for more 
than $100." 
(d) A candidate's committee may not directly or indirectly accept funds from 
any committee that was established in connection with the candidate`s 
attempt to secure any other judicial or nonjudicial office. The committee
may solicit funds for the campaign no earlier than February 15 of the year 
of the election, and may not solicit or accept funds after the date of the 
general election. 
(e) A candidate should not use or permit the use of campaign contributions 
for the private benefit of the candidate or the candidate's family. 
(f) If a candidate is not opposed for such judicial office, the candidate or the 
candidate's committee shall return to the contributors funds raised in 
excess of the actual costs incurred or contribute such funds to the client 
security fund of the State Bar of Michigan, not later than January 1 
following the election. Likewise, any candidate or committee having funds 
remaining after payment of all campaign expenses shall either return such 
funds to the contributors thereof or donate the funds to the client security 
fund of the State Bar of Michigan, not later than January 1 following the 
election. 
(g) A candidate for judicial office may not pay an endorsing organization for 
its ranking or endorsement. However, a candidate for judicial office may 
contribute campaign funds to pay some of the costs associated with the 
publication of the endorsement or ranking of the candidate, provided the 
candidate secures from the endorsing organization an assurance, before the 
endorsement or ranking is made, that the endorsing organization will not: 
(i) demand payment from the candidate or the candidate's agent as a 
condition of the endorsement or favorable ranking,  
(ii) seek any assurance from the candidate before the endorsement or 
ranking is made that it will be paid if it endorses or ranks the candidate 
favorably,  
(iii) add an endorsement or favorable ranking of a different candidate in 
the event that the initially supported candidate decides not to pay the 
endorsing organization for publicizing its endorsement and favorable 
ranking,  
(iv) prevent the candidate from publicizing the endorsement or 
favorable ranking independent of the endorsing organization, regardless 
of whether the endorsing organization itself publicizes its endorsement 
or favorable ranking.  
(3) No judge should personally sell or permit any court or public employee 
working for or assigned to any court to sell fund-raising tickets or accept 
contributions of any kind on the judge's behalf or on behalf of any other judicial 
candidate. 
C. Fund-Raising Other Than for Campaign Purposes Prohibited: 
Except as provided in 7B(2)(b), (c), 
(1) No judge shall accept a testimonial occasion on the judge's behalf where the 
tickets are priced to cover more than the reasonable costs thereof, which may 
include only a nominal gift,
(2) No judge or other person, party, committee, organization, firm, group or 
entity may accept any contribution of money or of a tangible thing of value, 
directly or indirectly, to or for a judge's benefit for any purpose whatever, 
including, but not limited to, contribution for a campaign deficit, expenses 
associated with judicial office, testimonial, honorarium (other than for services, 
subject to Canon 6) or otherwise. 
D. Applicability: 
(1) A successful candidate, whether or not an incumbent, and an unsuccessful 
candidate who is a judge, are subject to judicial discipline for campaign 
misconduct. An unsuccessful candidate who is a lawyer is subject to lawyer 
discipline for judicial campaign misconduct. 
(2) A successful elected candidate who was not an incumbent has until midnight 
December 31 following the election to wind up the candidate's law practice, and 
has until June 30 following the election to resign from organizations and 
activities, and divest interests that do not qualify under Canons 4 or 5. 
(3) Upon notice of appointment to judicial office, a candidate shall wind up the 
candidate's law practice prior to taking office, and has six months from the date 
of taking office to resign from organizations and activities and divest interests 
that do not qualify under Canons 4 or 5. 

Canon 8
Collective Activity by Judges 
The canons of this Code concerning the conduct of individual judges and judicial 
candidates also apply to judges' associations or any other organization consisting 
exclusively of judges. 

Comments