Supreme Court adopts the following changes, effective
immediately, to the Arkansas Code of Judicial Conduct in
order to improve the Code to (1) ensure self-represented
litigants were treated fairly, (2) address issues raised
during past election cycles where the Code was not clear, (3)
expand the Code's applicability to a judge-elect, (4)
better advise judges what was and was not prohibited conduct,
and (5) improve the judicial election process.
of this Code
judge, within the meaning of this Code, is anyone who is
authorized to perform judicial functions, including an
officer such as a, magistrate, special master, referee, or
member of the administrative law judiciary. Members of the
executive branch, such as administrative law judges and
hearing officers, are not subject to this Code.
judge shall uphold and apply the law, and shall perform all
duties of judicial office fairly and impartially.
judge may make reasonable accommodations, consistent with
the law and court rules, to facilitate the ability of all
litigants to be fairly heard.
ensure impartiality and fairness to all parties, a judge must
be objective and open-minded.
Although each judge comes to the bench with a unique
background and personal philosophy, a judge must interpret
and apply the law without regard to whether the judge
approves or disapproves of the law in question.
When applying and interpreting the law, a judge sometimes may
make good-faith errors of fact or law. Errors of this kind do
not violate this Rule.
growth in litigation involving self-represented litigants and
the responsibility of courts to promote access to justice
warrant reasonable flexibility by judges, consistent with the
law and court rules, to ensure that all litigants are fairly
heard. Examples of accommodations that may be made include
but are not limited to (1) making referrals to any resources
available to assist the litigant in the preparation of the
case; (2) liberally construing pleadings to facilitate
consideration of the issues raised; (3) providing general
information about proceeding and foundational requirements;
(4) attempting to make legal concepts understandable by using
plain language whenever possible; (5) asking neutral
questions to elicit or clarify information; (5) modifying the
traditional order of taking evidence; and (6) explaining the
basis for a ruling.
Statements on Pending and Impending Cases
judge shall not make any public statement that might
reasonably be expected to affect the outcome or impair the
fairness of a matter pending or impending in any court, or
make any nonpublic statement that might substantially
interfere with a fair trial or hearing.
judge shall not, 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
judge shall require court staff, court officials, and others
subject to the judge's direction and control to refrain
from making statements that the judge would be prohibited
from making by paragraphs (A) and (B).
Notwithstanding the restrictions in paragraph (A), a judge
may make public statements in the course of official duties,
may explain court procedures, and may comment on any
proceeding in which the judge is a litigant in a personal
Subject to the requirements of paragraph (A), a judge may
respond directly or through a third party to allegations in
the media or elsewhere concerning the judge's conduct in
This Rule's restrictions on judicial speech are essential
to the maintenance of the independence, integrity, and
impartiality of the judiciary.
This Rule does not prohibit a judge from commenting on
proceedings in which the judge is a litigant in a personal
capacity, or represents a client as permitted by these Rules.
In cases in which the judge is a litigant in an official
capacity, such as a writ of mandamus, the judge must not
Depending upon the circumstances, the judge should consider
whether it may be preferable for a third party, rather than
the judge, to respond or issue statements in connection with
allegations concerning the judge's conduct in a matter.
judge shall disqualify himself or herself in any proceeding
in which the judge's impartiality might reasonably be
questioned, including but not limited to the following
judge has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party or
a party's lawyer, or personal knowledge of facts that are
in dispute in the proceeding.
judge knows that the judge, the judge's spouse or
domestic partner, or a person within the third degree of
relationship to either of them, or the spouse or domestic
partner of such a person is:
(a)a party to the proceeding, or an officer, director,
general partner, managing member, or trustee of a party;
(b)acting as a lawyer in the proceeding;
(c)a person who has more than a de minimis interest that
could be substantially affected by the proceeding; or
(d)likely to be a material witness in the proceeding.
judge knows that he or she, individually or as a fiduciary,
or the judge's spouse, domestic partner, parent, or
child, or any other member of the judge's family residing
in the judge's household, has an economic interest in the
subject matter in controversy or in a party to the
judge, while a judge or a judicial candidate, has made a
public statement, other than in a court proceeding, judicial
decision, or opinion, that commits or appears to commit the
judge to reach a particular result or rule in a particular
way in the proceeding or controversy.
(a)served as a lawyer in the matter in controversy, or was
associated with a lawyer who participated substantially as a
lawyer in the matter during such association;
(b)served in governmental employment, and in such capacity
participated personally and substantially as a lawyer or
public official concerning the proceeding, or has publicly
expressed in such capacity an opinion concerning the merits
of the particular matter in controversy; (c)was a material
witness concerning the matter; or (d)previously presided as a
judge over the matter in another court.
judge shall keep informed about the judge's personal and
fiduciary economic interests, and make a reasonable effort to
keep informed about the personal economic interests of the
judge's spouse or domestic partner and minor children
residing in the judge's household.
judge subject to disqualification under this Rule, other than
for bias or prejudice under paragraph (A)(1), may disclose on
the record the basis of the judge's disqualification and
may ask the parties and their lawyers to consider, outside
the presence of the judge and court personnel, whether to
waive disqualification. If, following the disclosure, the
parties and lawyers agree, without participation by the judge
or court personnel, that the judge should not be
disqualified, the judge may participate in the proceeding.
The agreement shall be incorporated into the record of the
this Rule, a judge is disqualified whenever the judge's
impartiality might reasonably be questioned, regardless of
whether any of the specific provisions of paragraphs (A)(1)
through (6) apply. In many jurisdictions, the term
"recusal" is used interchangeably with the term
judge's obligation not to hear or decide matters in which
disqualification is required applies regardless of whether a
motion to disqualify is filed.
rule of necessity may override the rule of disqualification.
For example, a judge might be required to participate in
judicial review of a judicial salary statute, or might be the
only judge available in a matter requiring immediate judicial
action, such as a hearing on probable cause or a temporary
restraining order. In matters that require immediate action,
the judge must disclose on the record the basis for possible
disqualification and make reasonable efforts to transfer the
matter to another judge as soon as practicable.
fact that a lawyer, or a lawyer who practices with that
lawyer, in a proceeding is affiliated with a law firm with
which a relative of the judge is affiliated does not itself
disqualify the judge. If, however, the judge's
impartiality might reasonably be questioned under paragraph
(A), or the relative is known by the judge to have an
interest in the law firm that could be substantially affected
by the proceeding under paragraph (A)(2)(c), the judge's
disqualification is required.
The fact that a lawyer in a proceeding, or a litigant,
contributed to the judge's campaign, or publicly
supported the judge in his or her election does not of itself
disqualify the judge. However, the size of contributions, the
degree of involvement in the campaign, the timing of the
campaign and the proceeding, the issues involved in the
proceeding, and other factors known to the judge may raise
questions as to the judge's impartiality under paragraph
judge should disclose on the record information that the
judge believes the parties or their lawyers might reasonably
consider relevant to a possible motion for disqualification,
even if the judge believes there is no basis for
"Economic interest, " as set forth in the
Terminology section, means ownership of more than a de
minimis legal or equitable interest. Except for situations in
which a judge participates in the management of such a legal
or equitable interest, or the interest could be substantially
affected by the outcome of a proceeding before a judge, it
does not include:
interest in the individual holdings within a mutual or common
interest in securities held by an educational, religious,
charitable, fraternal, or civic organization in which the
judge or the judge's spouse, domestic partner, parent, or
child serves as a director, officer, advisor, or other
deposit in a financial institution or deposits or proprietary
interests the judge may maintain as a member of a mutual
savings association or credit union, or similar proprietary
interest in the issuer of government securities held by the