Yesterday, the BBA submitted comments to the SJC voicing its support for proposed amendments to SJC Rule 3:11, which establishes and governs the Committee on Judicial Ethics (CJE). This rule underwent substantial changes last year, in which the BBA was involved. At that time, we submitted a letter noting our support for the changes and also requesting some clarifications for how certain procedures would run. The current proposed revisions seem to be in line with that request, specifically shedding light on processes and expanding privileges for how bar associations can be involved in seeking ethics opinions and advisories.
The 2015 revisions to SJC Rule 3:11 laid out a multi-tiered system of ethics advice, whereby judges can request Informal or Letter Opinions from the CJE and the SJC has superseding authority to issue Ethics Advisory opinions on its own initiative or at the request of a judge, lawyer, or group of lawyers or judges. The current proposed revisions extend the right to request Informal Opinions to organizations or associations of lawyers or judges. This means that bar associations will now benefit from an expanded ability to request opinions related to judicial ethics questions and at multiple levels, allowing for greater opportunity for review of any one issue. We are confident that this proposed change will benefit the profession and practice of law in Massachusetts and thank the SJC for their thoughtful response to our 2015 letter.
– Jonathan Schreiber
Legislative and Public Policy Manager
Boston Bar Association