Are Judicial Rules Strict Enough on Ex Parte Contact?

March 13, 2015

The Legal Intelligencer
By P.J. D'Annunzio

In the wake of the state’s Judicial Conduct Board filing charges against three Philadelphia Municipal Court judges over their alleged roles in case-fixing, legal observers were divided on whether the problem of ex parte contact between judges was frequent enough to merit tougher ethics rules.

On Wednesday, Municipal Court Judges Dawn Segal and Joseph J. O’Neill and former Judge Joseph Waters were charged for their alleged roles in fixing cases for campaign donors of Waters.


Ethics attorney Michael B. Hayes of Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads said judges are not totally prohibited from speaking to one another about cases.

Hayes said neither the old code of conduct or the new one, implemented last year, prohibits judges “from consulting with each other appropriately, whether to provide mentorship, information or insight into an area of the law, or other professional guidance.”

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