SW Legal studies in Business

Judges May Not Communicate with Third Parties About a Case Without Party Participation
Description The Florida high court admonished a judge for violating the Code of Judicial Conduct by consulting with an outside expert about a case without having both parties present during the communication.
Topic Court Procedure
Key Words Judges; Communications; Consultants
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts While presiding over a trial between two companies in Orlando, the judge solicited communications from an unnamed computer consultant and expert concerning technical issues relating to damages in the case before him. This communication, which was intended to help the judge better understand the matter, was done without the involvement of the litigants or their attorneys. The Judicial Qualifications Commission reviewed the matter and recommended the judge be admonished.
Decision

The judge will be admonished. It is a canon of the Florida Code of Judicial Conduct that judges may not communicate outside the presence of the parties to a case about matters involving the case. An admonishment is a lesser sanction than a public reprimand for judicial misconduct.

Citation Inquiry Concerning a Judge No. 00-319, 813 So.2d 36 (Sup. Ct., Fla., 2002)

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