The Judicial Ethics Committee operates under
Supreme Court Rule 4.310 to respond to inquiries by judges and judicial candidates regarding the ethical implications of their own prospective or on-going conduct. The JEC does not respond to any judge or judicial candidate about the ethical behavior of anyone other than him/herself. Also, the JEC does not respond to inquiries from any person who is not a judge or judicial candidate.
The Kentucky Code of Judicial Conduct forms the basis of JEC opinions. The code is intended to provide guidance and assist judges in maintaining the highest standards of judicial and personal conduct, and to provide a basis for regulating their conduct through disciplinary agencies. The code provides rules that should assist judges and candidates for judicial positions to always maintain the dignity of judicial office and to avoid both impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in their professional and personal lives.
The JEC is comprised of one judge from the Court of Appeals, Circuit Court and District Court and two members of the Kentucky Bar Association. Each member serves a four-year term. The JEC elects a chair of the committee. Communications between the requestor and the JEC members are confidential.
The JEC will provide an informal opinion to the requestor if it considers the question to be of limited applicability. If the JEC considers the question to have sufficient general interest and importance, it will render a formal opinion that will be published without identifying the requestor. Both formal and informal opinions shall be advisory only. However, if the question is ever before the Supreme Court, the JEC and the Supreme Court shall take into consideration the judge or judicial candidate’s reliance upon the JEC opinion.
Judicial Ethics Opinions
The JEC has withdrawn some of its formal opinions due to changes in the rules, statutes and case law. For historical purposes, however, the opinions considered invalid and withdrawn are still contained on the website.
Some opinions that are still valid reference canon numbers from the old 1978 Code of Judicial Conduct and the new canons are noted. Other opinions that are currently valid should be followed with caution in light of recent federal court rulings that are on appeal. The list of opinions and the opinions themselves contain the pertinent information so that users can take notice of their status and proceed accordingly.
How to Request a JEC Opinion
A judge or judicial candidate can request a JEC opinion by contacting Executive Secretary Jean Collier, Esq., Judicial Ethics Committee, Robert F. Stephens District Courthouse, 150 N. Limestone, Suite 301, Lexington, KY 40507, 859-246-2296.
Judicial Ethics Committee Members
Judge Irv Maze, Chair
Kentucky Court of Appeals
Jefferson County Judicial Center
700 W. Jefferson St., Suite 1010
Louisville, KY 40202
Circuit Judge C. Rene' Williams
Webster County Judicial Center
35 U.S. Highway 41A South, P.O. Box 126
Dixon, KY 42409-0126
District Judge Jeffrey Scott Lawless
Pulaski County Court of Justice
50 Public Square, P.O. Box 682
Somerset, KY 42502-0682
Donald H. Combs, Esq.
Combs & Combs
203 Main St., P.O. Drawer 31
Pikeville, KY 41502-0031