Section 1. Policy.
North Dakota Judicial System policy is to provide ethics advisory services to members of North Dakota's judiciary and others subject to the Code of Judicial Conduct through a judicial ethics advisory committee that offers timely advice and opinions on compliance with the code.
Section 2. Membership.
A. The Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee is composed of one district or surrogate judge member and two lawyer members appointed by the Chief Justice after consultation with the Supreme Court and two district judge members appointed by the President of the North Dakota Judges Association. Of the members initially appointed and as determined by lot at the first meeting, two members will serve one-year terms, two members will serve two-year terms, and one member will serve a three-year term. Following initial appointment, each member serves a three-year term and is eligible for reappointment. A member may not serve more than three consecutive three-year terms. A former member who served three consecutive three-year terms is eligible for appointment after a six-year break in service. Each member serves until the member's successor is appointed.
B. Each member is entitled to reimbursement for actual expenses incurred in the performance of committee duties.
C. The Chief Justice appoints the committee chair.
Section 3. Committee Duties.
A. The committee shall provide ethics advisory services on matters related to the Code of Judicial Conduct to those subject to the code. Services provided under this section are limited to personal requests regarding the requester's prospective conduct. The committee will not issue an opinion on a question of the constitutionality of the code. The committee will not usually issue an opinion on a question known to be pending before a court in a proceeding in which the requester is involved.
B. The committee may provide ethics advisory services in the form of telephone advice, followed by a written letter or formal opinion at the option of the requester. There is no effect on any disciplinary proceeding if a written letter or formal opinion is not requested. The committee may provide advisory letters individualized to the requester or formal opinions that are submitted to the requester and distributed to all judges. The decision to proceed with a written letter or a formal opinion, or both, is made in consultation with the requester. Formal opinions or advisory letters issued by the Committee are non-binding.
C. Compliance with a written advisory letter or formal opinion issued by the committee is evidence of good faith for consideration in any sanction decision in a disciplinary proceeding.
Section 4. Staffing and Research Services
General staff services for the committee will be provided through staff of the office of State Court Administrator. The committee, in consultation with the State Court Administrator, may enter into agreements with other entities for purposes of obtaining legal research, memorandums, and draft opinions for consideration or use by the committee.
Section 5. Confidentiality.
All proceedings of the committee, the identity of a requester, drafts and other records of the committee, other than formal opinions, are confidential.
Section 6. Effective Date.
This Rule is effective May 1, 2007, subject to comment.
Dated: March 2, 2007.