Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Panelists kick around the prison-industrial complex
by Victor A. Patton
"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction." —Article 13, U.S. Constitution
Nearly 1 million African Americans are incarcerated in prisons and jails in the United States, according to recent Justice Department statistics. Tukufu Kalonji considers that an emergency—although, he concedes, few others do.
"As you can see by the turnout here today, there are not a whole lot of people worried about us," said Kalonji, referring to the rows of empty chairs at an Aug. 9 forum at the Malcolm X library in Encanto. "Many people don't believe they can do anything about it. Other people don't know or just don't care."
The forum, titled "The Black Community and the Prison Industrial Complex: Critical Issues and Struggles for Strategies," questioned the growing number of African Americans locked up, as well as the ever-expanding corporate interest in seeking prison labor as an alternative workforce.
The panel of 10 African Americans from various professions agreed that what they call the "prison-industrial complex" emphasizes incarceration, then exploits inmates for profit—inmates who are paid a few cents per hour, without any meaningful effort toward rehabilitation. That a majority of those incarcerated are poor, African American and Latino leads some to believe the system strongly resembles chattel slavery.
"At the same time while these corporations say that they are investing in education, they are also heavily in the incarceration of [Blacks], Latinos, poor Whites and anyone else who falls victim to this trap," said panelist Jaja Malik Atenra of the Sirius Research Group.
While the panelists agreed on the dire need for organized confrontation of a worsening incarceration/exploitation prison system, their solutions were wide and varied, ranging from grassroots activism to more eccentric approaches. One participant suggested asking the United Nations to level charges against the U.S. for crimes against humanity. Another even suggested that African Americans own and operate their own prisons.
Other panelists, such as Minister Masada of the organization My Brothers Keeper, suggested action at the legislative level, amending California's three-strikes law to include language requiring a third-strike crime to be, at a minimum, a violent felony. "No one should be spending life in prison for stealing a beer," said Masada, who also advocated for a nationwide boycott of companies who benefit from prison labor. "America has more prisoners than any other country, and California even has more prisoners than some countries," said Masada. "We need to have a national organization for prisoners, and we need to build relationships with lawyers and young people in law school."
Many of the businesses that profit from prison construction and inmate labor were identified by name during the discussion, some names very familiar. According to Kalonji, the two main private prison industries are Correctional Corporations of America (CCA) and Wackenhut Corporation. "Fifty-one percent of [CCA's] founding monies [was from] Kentucky Fried Chicken," said Kalonji, who also fingered K-mart, Dell Computer, Starbuck's Coffee, Victoria's Secret, Microsoft and JC Penny as corporations who use inmate labor for products and industries.
While education, health and social programs all suffered deep cutbacks in this year's state budget, California's prison industry, said one panelist, continues to grow. "There have been no cuts to the prison system—they're spending more, while cutting health and education," said Dr. Richard Butcher of Caregivers Medical group, adding that fewer dollars for education today will surely mean more African Americans in prison in the future.
According to Department of Justice statistics, 2,033,331 people nationwide were incarcerated in federal and state prisons and county jails in 2002. Of those incarcerated, about 887,700 were African American (818,900 men, 68,800 women). In California, a total of 159,390 people are currently incarcerated. Of that number, Hispanics, Blacks and Whites each comprise about a third of the total prison population, according to the California Department of Corrections.
While some African American pundits have expressed concern about the disproportionately high numbers of incarcerated Blacks, with the exception of UC Santa Cruz professor Angela Davis, none have mounted any sizable opposition to the issues of systemic bias or corporate exploitation of inmate labor. Most conservatives—including African Americans—believe that increasing the number of prisons in the nation is necessary and that it's responsible for a decade-long decline of crime rates.
"[The high number of Blacks in prison] is generally interpreted as evidence that African American people are arrested out of proportion to their numbers in society, since they constitute only 13 percent of the population," wrote conservative John McWhorter, an African American UC Berkeley professor in his book Losing the Race: Self Sabotage in African American America. "However, the figures must be seen in light of the fact that as sad as it is, nationwide African Americans commit not 13 percent, but 42 percent of the violent crimes in the country. In other words, contrary to the idea that African Americans are arrested disproportionately, their proportion of the prison population neatly reflects the rate at which they commit crimes," writes McWhorter.
Angela Davis, however, sees prisons more as a modern-day plantation, where expanding corporate interests vie for control, playing on a society that ignores the actual socio-economic conditions responsible for why people commit crimes.
"Prisons thus perform a feat of magic. Or rather the people who continually vote in new prison bonds and tacitly assent to a proliferating network of prisons and jails have been tricked into believing in the magic of imprisonment," Davis wrote in a Colorlines Magazine article. "But prisons do not disappear problems, they disappear human beings. And the practice of disappearing vast numbers of people from poor, immigrant, and racially marginalized communities has literally become big business."
"There's a legacy going back to slavery," said panelist Atenra, who argued that large numbers of African Americans in prison can be traced back to being disenfranchised as an ethnic group, beginning with slavery and continuing today. He also pointed out that convict leasing agreements between private entrepreneurs and states first appeared with the abolition of legal slavery. Subsequently, Southern states passed the notorious "black codes," which placed severe restrictions on freed slaves and effectively guaranteed a steady flow of inmate labor to exploit.
"When you have dominated a group of people... controlled them psychologically and physically, and then all of a sudden you set them free, they're not in the mindset, or have the means, to fend for themselves, to do for themselves. This is what we're seeing from the end of slavery after the Civil War, all the way up to 1954 with Brown vs. the Board of Education…. There was institutional racism, policies that kept us in that place, [along with] poor education or no education," he added.
While most of the panelists viewed the incarceration problem through a socio-historical lens, others in the audience viewed the issue specifically as one of economics, the political pathos of poverty in America.
"I know race is a big deal, but it is about class…it's poor people that are in prison—people with no economic or political voice," said Modesta Brown of the California Coalition for Women Prisoners. "We need to identify [the prison-industrial complex] as the money maker that it is. Right now, they are building prisons before they even have the prisoners to fill them. If we can identify it as being a dysfunctional system, then we can do something about it."
Even though Kalonji said that he was somewhat disappointed with Saturday's relatively meager turnout of about 37 people, he aims to create a larger organization to address the prison-industrial complex, among other criminal justice-related issues. He offered one more possible solution:
"I don't believe that we can't make change. The established order operates as it does, in terms of unethical and inequitable treatment of us, because we allow it. We need to take responsibility and demand better treatment."
© 2003-2006 Southland Publishing, All Rights Reserved
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Posted on Saturday, July 29 @ 16:47:02 MDT by editor
SUPPORT FOR THE RELEASE OF RAMSEY MUNIZ
Whereas, Mr. Ramiro R. Muniz is a native of Corpus Christi, Texas; and
Whereas, Mr. Ramiro R. Muniz contributed to the Chicano Movement during the 1970s as a leader fighting for justice and equality for all Mexican Americans throughout the United States; and
Whereas, Mr. Ramiro R. Muniz was a great Texas gubernatorial candidate for La Raza Unida Party – a political party established and developed solely by Mexican Americans; and
Whereas, Mr. Ramiro R. Muniz efforts and contribution are recognized and fully noted as part of our Mexican-American history; and
Whereas, Mr. Ramiro R. Muniz is serving a term of life without parole and was assigned to remain imprisoned in Leavenworth, Kansas, and now sits in the USP Florence High Penitentiary in Colorado; and
Whereas, Mr. Ramiro R. Muniz is serving a life sentence under the three strike rule which we feel is unconstitutional and inhumane; and
Whereas, Mr. Ramiro R. Muniz, now 64 years old, who was housed in the United States Medical Center in Springfield, Missouri, as a result of complication from a life- threatening surgery performed in August of 2005 and who has not fully recovered form his medical needs; and
Whereas, Mr. Ramiro R. Muniz is in need of further surgery and returning him to the penitentiary could worsen his already fragile condition; and
Whereas, Mr. Ramiro R. Muniz has been a model prisoner for the past 11 years who was to be housed near his family in Three Rivers, Texas, as ordered by Federal Judge Paul Brown;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the League of United Latin American Citizens Council 1 build support and unity to staunchly advocate and seek the immediate humanitarian release of Mr. Ramiro R. Muniz from prison.
Adopted this 1st day of July 2006.
LULAC National President
Local LULAC issues favored
Support for soldiers, Ramsey Muniz passes
By Anthony Martinez Beven Caller-Times
July 2, 2006
Both local LULAC chapters reveled in support shown Saturday by the national organization for two resolutions tied to Corpus Christi.
Delegates at the national League of United Latin American Citizens convention passed without dissent a resolution calling for the release of Ramsey Muniz, a former area lawyer and candidate for governor in the early 1970s.
Muniz, 64, is serving a life sentence in federal prison after three drug-related felony convictions during a 17-year period. Arguing his health is failing and adequate health care services are lacking, LULAC approved a call for his release during the national convention in Milwaukee. The convention ended Saturday.
LULAC Council 1, based in Corpus Christi, had been leading the initiative, and chapters across Texas have passed a similar statewide resolution.
"For the state of Texas, I was very happy. For the national level, I was very surprised because 1,000 members voted unanimously for the humanitarian release of Ramsey," said Gambi Gamboa, Council 1 civil rights chairman.
The organization wants to see, for humanitarian reasons, that he gets let out and spends the last few years with his family, Gamboa said from Milwaukee. He said the national council is requesting the U.S. Justice Department intervene and help facilitate the release of Muniz.
Another resolution passed that seeks community support, particularly among employers, for soldiers coming back from the war in Iraq.
Nancy Vera, president of LULAC Council 4444, said national support for the resolution highlights that though LULAC is a Hispanic civil rights organization, it stands behind the United States.
"We hold true our traditions and our heritage, there's no question of our loyalty to the United States," Vera said. "This is our home. This where we were born, many of us."
Vera said Council 4444 is working closely with the local chapter of Blue Star Mothers, a national group of moms whose sons and daughters are soldiers in Iraq and other places who offer support to families whose children have been killed in the war.
A third resolution regarding the boycott of Telemundo television network and its advertisers after TV personality Johnny Canales claims he was discriminated against for his Mexican origin was tabled, said Gonzalo Tamez, Council 4444 vice president and a convention delegate.
Joe Ortiz, district director for area LULAC chapters, recently said discrimination prompted Canales' music show to be canceled earlier this year.
"Because it's under negotiation they think they are going to be able to come to some kind of agreement," said Tamez, who attended the convention on behalf of Council 4444. However, if negotiations fail, LULAC may consider a national resolution in favor of Canales, he said.
Contact Anthony Martinez Beven at 886-3792 or bevena@ caller.com
Copyright 2006, Caller.com. All Rights Reserved.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
On 6/13/05 the California Supreme Court ruled in the case of Wasatch Property Management v. Degrate that a landlord who terminates a tenancy agreement with a tenan3 who is on the Section 8 program where the eviction is not for cause (i.e. rules violations etc.) is required to give that tenant a 90 days’ notice to quit.
On 6/13/05 the California Supreme Court ruled in the case of Wasatch Property Management v. Degrate that a landlord who terminates a tenancy agreement with a tenan3 who is on the Section 8 program where the eviction is not for cause (i.e. rules violations etc.) is required to give that tenant a 90 days’ notice to quit.
Saturday, June 03, 2006
Dear Air America & John Kelley,
Team Kenedeno & Associates
(E Advocacy Architecture)
Specializing in South Texas Social Structure.
"Engaging the average citizen in the formulation of Public Policy" is our mission @ Team Kenedeno. The Net is a powerful force for change -- and a dynamic tool for citizen education and action. Read the latest research on citizen participation online, the stories and experiences of coalitions, corporate clients, and others working in the cyber trenches, and discover the potential to become an active participant in online democracy.
Hear @ TEAM KENEDENO we are building the VOTE “back together again”.
We have earned our place.
If you insist, we will earn it again.
It is representative of how every South Texan should speak up. You might call it anger I call it passion. Passion is WATT you felt on TALK RADIO this Friday Morning. If you weren’t there YOU should have been. I am sure a transcript will be readily provided upon request.
FYI: Judge JAG was TARDY. Callers could have called in when the BELL RANG. But then again Maybe JAG had a legitimate reason for his unexplained TARDY. Remember the Sandra WATTS Jury “message sending” fiasco. Did this guy end up in JAGS court and allowed “push and pull” alliances to unite and rendezvous at the RADIO Station,…… TARDY?
Where is Ganschow when he is needed?
CCISD’s finest in Security / Attendance in the Broomfield Style.
The caller was attempting to ENGAGE the AVERAGE CITIZEN by making a simple statement addressing the acknowledgment that the JUDGE of the Truancy Court was Tardy. WHY did the host not address the impromptness and allow JAG to respond?
You know WATT Mr Kelly,
ü homework - a must study of Mike Wallace.
Shouldn’t he JAG a fine for the dead airtime?
This message is slated and designed…….
It is perfectly natural for Nueces County Judges to show up tardy.
Mr. Kelly states, “He didn’t have time to take any calls”.
This subtle tactic sent a one sided message and a severe blow to public defeatist sentiment.
Whether he realized it or not, that was a WATTS element mouthpiece.
Then all of the TAX Write Offs JOES try to sell us as charity.
There are a “few good men” in the bunch.
My regards Judge Greenwell, Randy Maldonado, Robert Zamora, Joe Flores, Juan Garcia and John La Rue.
There are some that need to be removed from status and position.
Mr. Hector Canales of the “TWO FER” clan
Barbie Girl’s partner
Mr. “Best Little Door House”, Cocoy sends his regards
And I thought I had seen a blue ghost?
That behavior is an embarrassment to the two boards; where do you “think” you sit so high?
And I know that is not why you “think” you sit so high.
Resign step down and go back to your “HOMETOWN”
This is MY Town.
How bout JUAN MORE!?!
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
One example, and I will build from it;
Say right now, today we have attorneys who are good; but know one knows their name. They are NOT "in" with any machine or Cliqua, they possess a very little financial warchest but they possess an integrity of a Champion Defender and a record (pedigree) to prove it.
WATT if the track record of each attorney was electronically accessible?
After all, it is their "WORK PRODUCT" and OUR Public Information.
The support is very unspoken?
I wonder why?
The Transcripts could be transmitted to the web as the trials are over.
The 13th COA could recieve the Court Record immediately and the cost would only be incurred by the new IT upgrade.
Right now Nueces County is a leader in this technology. There are nano-technology collections of vast amounts of data only for an elite few to use for their own good. Ask around, ask the Judges about the Social Studies and the enormous amounts of personal information being exploited for many agendas other than HOMELAND SECURITY and the DRUG COURT.
So anyways, WATT if I am challenging an incumbent and I want to show the people why I am the best man for JOB. I can refer voters to my record and the opponent can refer the voters to his record as well.
What is the problem with each candidate referring the voters to browse their accomplishments?
This is a good thing!
Many other facets of this future courthouse to be in Nueces County.
Friday, April 14, 2006
Good times may soon be here again for the pipeline and natural gas folks, thanks to Capelo’s HB 1931
(full site text search)
Back to the Future
No More Piping Up
HB 1931 • Rep. Jaime Capelo • (D-Corpus Christi)
Texas pipeline operators and natural gas producers certainly have it rough these days. Under regulatory reforms passed last session, every time they want to build a new pipeline, companies actually have to tell the public about it. And, horror of horrors, citizens can even challenge the project in a public hearing. It was so much easier back in the good old days when operators could just snag land and build their pipeline without dealing with complaints from the Little People.
Well, good times may soon be here again for the pipeline and natural gas folks, thanks to Capelo’s HB 1931. This quaint industry handout repeals section 86.056 of the Natural Resources Code–that oh-so-pesky public notification requirement for new pipeline construction. This provision arose from a longstanding controversy over the Longhorn Pipeline project that so enraged South Austin residents, and was passed in 2001 as part of Railroad Commission of Texas Sunset legislation. It requires any company planning to build a new pipeline across three or more counties to inform affected communities through newspaper announcements at least 30 days, but no more than a year, before construction begins. The statute also gives affected citizens the right to request a hearing before the Railroad Commission to contest the building permit.
The pipeline and natural gas lobby claims that this is ultra-liberal over-regulation of industry that needlessly delays projects and costs too much money. They brought the bill to Capelo, who apparently saw a chance to help afflicted corporations such as Koch Pipeline Company, Copano Energy, Occidental Petroleum Corporation, Sunoco, Duke Energy, and El Paso Corporation–many of which do business in his district. Capelo aide Chris Payne said the public notification statute is unnecessary since the Railroad Commission already enforces vigorous pipeline safety standards. "There are safeguards in place," he said. "The public can always call the Railroad Commission and complain."
HB 1931 has so far sailed through the Legislature with little opposition. The House Regulated Industries Commit-tee unanimously approved the bill on April 3rd after just 10 minutes of public testimony from four industry lobbyists. Tom "Smitty" Smith of Public Citizen was the only person registered against the bill, but he couldn’t testify at the hearing because of a scheduling conflict. HB 1931 then passed the full House almost unnoticed. At press time, the bill was still pending in the Senate Natural Resources Committee, though passage is all but assured. That would be a shame, Smith says, because the bill is gutting hard-won regulatory reforms. Sadly, you get the sense he’s said that about too many bills this session.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
A I did not.
Q You did not sell out. Have you ever heard the word in Spanish called "Vendido", V-E-N-D-I-D-O?
A Yes, I have.
Q And that's what you are, right, sir, a "Vendido"?
A No, I think that was -- the term was used for you and your family during the senatorial race.
Q Yes, sir. Yes, sir. That's what you are, right?
A No, that's not.
Q Yes, sir.
A I think that's one of the reasons why you're so upset.
Q I'm upset because I cannot stand a corrupt lawyer like you, sir.
MR. HARRIS: We're going to move to strike the sidebar.
Monday, March 06, 2006
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Saturday, February 11, 2006
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
A Judge Should Uphold the Integrity and Independence of the Judiciary.
A Judge Should Avoid Impropriety and the Appearance of Impropriety in All Activities.
A Judge Should Perform the Duties of Office Impartially and Diligently.
A Judge May Conduct the Judge's Extra-Judicial Activities to Minimize the Risk of Conflict with Judicial Obligations.
A Judge Should Refrain From Inappropriate Political Activity.
A Judge Shall Comply with the Code of Judicial Conduct.
Effective Date of Compliance
Construction and Terminology of the Code.
Our legal system is based on the principle that an independent, fair and competent judiciary will interpret and apply the laws that govern us. The role of the judiciary is central to American concepts of justice and the rule of law. Intrinsic to all sections of this Code of Judicial Conduct are the precepts that judges, individually and collectively, must respect and honor the judicial office as a public trust and strive to enhance and maintain confidence in our legal system.The judge is an arbiter of facts and law for the resolution of disputes and a highly visible symbol of government under the rule of law.
The Code of Judicial Conduct is not intended as an exhaustive guide for the conduct of judges.They should also be governed in their judicial and personal conduct by general ethical standards.The Code is intended, however, to state basic standards which should govern the conduct of all judges and to provide guidance to assist judges in establishing and maintaining high standards of judicial and personal conduct.
Upholding the Integrity and Independence of the Judiciary
An independent and honorable judiciary is indispensable to justice in our society.A judge should participate in establishing, maintaining and enforcing high standards of conduct, and should personally observe those standards so that the integrity and independence of the judiciary is preserved.The provisions of this Code are to be construed and applied to further that objective.
Avoiding Impropriety and the Appearance of Impropriety In All of the Judge's Activities
A. A judge shall comply with the law and should act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.
B. A judge shall not allow any relationship to influence judicial conduct or judgment.A judge shall not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others; nor shall a judge convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge.A judge shall not testify voluntarily as a character witness.
C. A judge shall not knowingly hold membership in any organization that practices discrimination prohibited by law.
Performing the Duties of Judicial Office Impartially and Diligently
A. Judicial Duties in General. The judicial duties of a judge take precedence over all the judge's other activities.Judicial duties include all the duties of the judge's office prescribed by law.In the performance of these duties, the following standards apply:
B. Adjudicative Responsibilities.
(1) A judge shall hear and decide matters assigned to the judge except those in which disqualification is required or recusal is appropriate.
(2) A judge should be faithful to the law and shall maintain professional competence in it.A judge shall not be swayed by partisan interests, public clamor, or fear of criticism.
(3) A judge shall require order and decorum in proceedings before the judge.
(4) A judge shall be patient, dignified and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers and others with whom the judge deals in an official capacity, and should require similar conduct of lawyers, and of staff, court officials and others subject to the judge's direction and control.
(5) A judge shall perform judicial duties without bias or prejudice.
(6) A judge shall not, in the performance of judicial duties, by words or conduct manifest bias or prejudice, including but not limited to bias or prejudice based upon race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status, and shall not knowingly permit staff, court officials and others subject to the judge's direction and control to do so.
(7) A judge shall require lawyers in proceedings before the court to refrain from manifesting, by words or conduct, bias or prejudice based on race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status against parties, witnesses, counsel or others.This requirement does not preclude legitimate advocacy when any of these factors is an issue in the proceeding.
(8) A judge shall accord to every person who has a legal interest in a proceeding, or that person's lawyer, the right to be heard according to law.A judge shall not initiate, permit, or consider ex parte communications or other communications made to the judge outside the presence of the parties between the judge and a party, an attorney, a guardian or attorney ad litem, an alternative dispute resolution neutral, or any other court appointee concerning the merits of a pending or impending judicial proceeding.A judge shall require compliance with this subsection by court personnel subject to the judge's direction and control.This subsection does not prohibit:
(a) communications concerning uncontested administrative or uncontested procedural matters;
(b) conferring separately with the parties and/or their lawyers in an effort to mediate or settle matters, provided, however, that the judge shall first give notice to all parties and not thereafter hear any contested matters between the parties except with the consent of all parties;
(c) obtaining the advice of a disinterested expert on the law applicable to a proceeding before the judge if the judge gives notice to the parties of the person consulted and the substance of the advice, and affords the parties reasonable opportunity to respond;
(d) consulting with other judges or with court personnel;
(e) considering an ex parte communication expressly authorized by law.
(9) A judge should dispose of all judicial matters promptly, efficiently and fairly.
(10) A judge shall abstain from public comment about a pending or impending proceeding which may come before the judge's court in a manner which suggests to a reasonable person the judge's probable decision on any particular case. This prohibition applies to any candidate for judicial office, with respect to judicial proceedings pending or impending in the court on which the candidate would serve if elected. A judge shall require similar abstention on the part of court personnel subject to the judge's direction and control.This section does not prohibit judges from making public statements in the course of their official duties or from explaining for public information the procedures of the court.This section does not apply to proceedings in which the judge or judicial candidate is a litigant in a personal capacity.
(11) A judge shall not disclose or use, for any purpose unrelated to judicial duties, nonpublic information acquired in a judicial capacity.The discussions, votes, positions taken, and writings of appellate judges and court personnel about causes are confidences of the court and shall be revealed only through a court's judgment, a written opinion or in accordance with Supreme Court guidelines for a court approved history project.
C. Administrative Responsibilities.
(1) A judge should diligently and promptly discharge the judge's administrative responsibilities without bias or prejudice and maintain professional competence in judicial administration, and should cooperate with other judges and court officials in the administration of court business.
(2) A judge should require staff, court officials and others subject to the judge's direction and control to observe the standards of fidelity and diligence that apply to the judge and to refrain from manifesting bias or prejudice in the performance of their official duties.
(3) A judge with supervisory authority for the judicial performance of other judges should take reasonable measures to assure the prompt disposition of matters before them and the proper performance of their other judicial responsibilities.
(4) A judge shall not make unnecessary appointments.A judge shall exercise the power of appointment impartially and on the basis of merit.A judge shall avoid nepotism and favoritism.A judge shall not approve compensation of appointees beyond the fair value of services rendered.
(5) A judge shall not fail to comply with Rule 12 of the Rules of Judicial Administration, knowing that the failure to comply is in violation of the rule.
D. Disciplinary Responsibilities.
(1) A judge who receives information clearly establishing that another judge has committed a violation of this Code should take appropriate action.A judge having knowledge that another judge has committed a violation of this Code that raises a substantial question as to the other judge's fitness for office shall inform the State Commission on Judicial Conduct or take other appropriate action.
(2) A judge who receives information clearly establishing that a lawyer has committed a violation of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct should take appropriate action.A judge having knowledge that a lawyer has committed a violation of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as to the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects shall inform the Office of the General Counsel of the State Bar of Texas or take other appropriate action.
CANON 4 Conducting the Judge's Extra-Judicial Activities to Minimize the Risk of Conflict with Judicial Obligations
A. Extra-Judicial Activities in General. A judge shall conduct all of the judge's extra-judicial activities so that they do not:
(1) cast reasonable doubt on the judge's capacity to act impartially as a judge; or
(2) interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties.
B. Activities to Improve the Law. A judge may:
(1) speak, write, lecture, teach and participate in extra-judicial activities concerning the law, the legal system, the administration of justice and non-legal subjects, subject to the requirements of this Code; and,
(2) serve as a member, officer, or director of an organization or governmental agency devoted to the improvement of the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice.A judge may assist such an organization in raising funds and may participate in their management and investment, but should not personally participate in public fund raising activities.He or she may make recommendations to public and private fund-granting agencies on projects and programs concerning the law, the legal system and the administration of justice.
C. Civic or Charitable Activities. A judge may participate in civic and charitable activities that do not reflect adversely upon the judge's impartiality or interfere with the performance of judicial duties.A judge may serve as an officer, director, trustee or non-legal advisor of an educational, religious, charitable, fraternal, or civic organization not conducted for the profit of its members, subject to the following limitations:
(1) A judge should not serve if it is likely that the organization will be engaged in proceedings that would ordinarily come before the judge or will be regularly or frequently engaged in adversary proceedings in any court.
(2) A judge shall not solicit funds for any educational, religious, charitable, fraternal or civic organization, but may be listed as an officer, director, delegate, or trustee of such an organization, and may be a speaker or a guest of honor at an organization's fund raising events.
(3) A judge should not give investment advice to such an organization, but may serve on its board of directors or trustees even though it has the responsibility for approving investment decisions.
D. Financial Activities.
(1) A judge shall refrain from financial and business dealings that tend to reflect adversely on the judge's impartiality, interfere with the proper performance of the judicial duties, exploit his or her judicial position, or involve the judge in frequent transactions with lawyers or persons likely to come before the court on which the judge serves.This limitation does not prohibit either a judge or candidate from soliciting funds for appropriate campaign or officeholder expenses as permitted by state law.
(2) Subject to the requirements of subsection (1), a judge may hold and manage investments, including real estate, and engage in other remunerative activity including the operation of a business.A judge shall not be an officer, director or manager of a publicly owned business.For purposes of this Canon, a "publicly owned business" is a business having more than ten owners who are not related to the judge by consanguinity or affinity within the third degree of relationship.
(3) A judge should manage any investments and other economic interests to minimize the number of cases in which the judge is disqualified.As soon as the judge can do so without serious financial detriment, the judge should divest himself or herself of investments and other economic interests that might require frequent disqualification.A judge shall be informed about the judge's personal and fiduciary economic interests, and make a reasonable effort to be informed about the personal economic interests of any family member residing in the judge's household.
(4) Neither a judge nor a family member residing in the judge's household shall accept a gift, bequest, favor, or loan from anyone except as follows:
(a) a judge may accept a gift incident to a public testimonial to the judge; books and other resource materials supplied by publishers on a complimentary basis for official use; or an invitation to the judge and spouse to attend a bar-related function or activity devoted to the improvement of the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice;
(b) a judge or a family member residing in the judge's household may accept ordinary social hospitality; a gift, bequest, favor, or loan from a relative; a gift from a friend for a special occasion such as a wedding, engagement, anniversary, or birthday, if the gift is fairly commensurate with the occasion and the relationship; a loan from a lending institution in its regular course of business on the same terms generally available to persons who are not judges; or a scholarship or fellowship awarded on the same terms applied to other applicants;
(c) a judge or a family member residing in the judge's household may accept any other gift, bequest, favor, or loan only if the donor is not a party or person whose interests have come or are likely to come before the judge;
(d) a gift, award or benefit incident to the business, profession or other separate activity of a spouse or other family member residing in the judge's household, including gifts, awards and benefits for the use of both the spouse or other family member and the judge (as spouse or family member), provided the gift, award or benefit could not reasonably be perceived as intended to influence the judge in the performance of judicial duties.
E. Fiduciary Activities.
(1) A judge shall not serve as executor, administrator or other personal representative, trustee, guardian, attorney in fact or other fiduciary, except for the estate, trust or person of a member of the judge's family, and then only if such service will not interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties.
(2) A judge shall not serve as a fiduciary if it is likely that the judge as a fiduciary will be engaged in proceedings that would ordinarily come before the judge, or if the estate, trust, or ward becomes involved in adversary proceedings in the court on which the judge serves or one under its appellate jurisdiction.
(3) The same restrictions on financial activities that apply to a judge personally also apply to the judge while acting in a fiduciary capacity.
F. Service as Arbitrator or Mediator. An active full-time judge shall not act as an arbitrator or mediator for compensation outside the judicial system, but a judge may encourage settlement in the performance of official duties.
G. Practice of Law. A judge shall not practice law except as permitted by statute or this Code.Notwithstanding this prohibition, a judge may act pro se and may, without compensation, give legal advice to and draft or review documents for a member of the judge's family.
H. Extra-Judicial Appointments. Except as otherwise provided by constitution and statute, a judge should not accept appointment to a governmental committee, commission, or other position that is concerned with issues of fact or policy on matters other than the improvement of the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice.A judge, however, may represent his or her country, state, or locality on ceremonial occasions or in connection with historical, educational, and cultural activities.
I. Compensation, Reimbursement and Reporting.
(1) Compensation and Reimbursement.A judge may receive compensation and reimbursement of expenses for the extra-judicial activities permitted by this Code, if the source of such payments does not give the appearance of influencing the judge's performance of judicial duties or otherwise give the appearance of impropriety.
(a) Compensation shall not exceed a reasonable amount nor shall it exceed what a person who is not a judge would receive for the same activity.
(b) Expense reimbursement shall be limited to the actual cost of travel, food, and lodging reasonably incurred by the judge and, where appropriate to the occasion, by the judge's family.Any payment in excess of such an amount is compensation. (2) Public Reports. A judge shall file financial and other reports as required by law.
Refraining From Inappropriate Political Activity
(1) A judge or judicial candidate shall not:
(i) make pledges or promises of conduct in office regarding pending or impending cases, specific classes of cases, specific classes of litigants, or specific propositions of law that would suggest to a reasonable personthat the judge is predisposed to a probable decision in cases within the scope of the pledge;
(ii) knowingly or recklessly misrepresent the identity, qualifications, present position, or other fact concerning the candidate or an opponent; or
(iii) make a statement that would violate Canon 3B(10).
(2) A judge or judicial candidate shall not authorize the public use of his or her name endorsing another candidate for any public office, except that either may indicate support for a political party.A judge or judicial candidate may attend political events and express his or her views on political matters in accord with this Canon and Canon 3B(10).
(3) A judge shall resign from judicial office upon becoming a candidate in a contested election for a non-judicial office either in a primary or in a general or in a special election.A judge may continue to hold judicial office while being a candidate for election to or serving as a delegate in a state constitutional convention or while being a candidate for election to any judicial office.
(4) A judge or judicial candidate subject to the Judicial Campaign Fairness Act, Tex. Elec. Code §253.151, et seq. (the “Act”), shall not knowingly commit an act for which he or she knows the Act imposes a penalty.Contributions returned in accordance with Sections 253.155(e), 253.157(b) or 253.160(b) of the Act are not a violation of this paragraph.
A statement made during a campaign for judicial office, whether or not prohibited by this Canon, may cause a judge's impartiality to be reasonably questioned in the context of a particular case and may result in recusal.
Compliance with the Code of Judicial Conduct
A. The following persons shall comply with all provisions of this Code:
(1) An active, full-time justice or judge of one of the following courts:
(a) the Supreme Court,
(b) the Court of Criminal Appeals,
(c) courts of appeals,
(d) district courts,
(e) criminal district courts, and
(f) statutory county courts.
(2) A full-time commissioner, master, magistrate, or referee of a court listed in (1) above.
B. A County Judge who performs judicial functions shall comply with all provisions of this Code except the judge is not required to comply:
(1) when engaged in duties which relate to the judge's role in the administration of the county;
(2) with Canons 4D(2), 4D(3), or 4H;
(3) with Canon 4G, except practicing law in the court on which he or she serves or in any court subject to the appellate jurisdiction of the county court, or acting as a lawyer in a proceeding in which he or she has served as a judge or in any proceeding related thereto.
(4) with Canon 5(3).
C. Justices of the Peace and Municipal Court Judges.
(1) A justice of the peace or municipal court judge shall comply with all provisions of this Code, except the judge is not required to comply:
(a) with Canon 3B(8) pertaining to ex parte communications; in lieu thereof a justice of the peace or municipal court judge shall comply with 6C(2) below;
(b) with Canons 4D(2), 4D(3), 4E, or 4H;
(c) with Canon 4F, unless the court on which the judge serves may have jurisdiction of the matter or parties involved in the arbitration or mediation; or
(d) if an attorney, with Canon 4G, except practicing law in the court on which he or she serves, or acting as a lawyer in a proceeding in which he or she has served as a judge or in any proceeding related thereto.
(e) with Canons 5(3).
(2) A justice of the peace or a municipal court judge, except as authorized by law, shall not directly or indirectly initiate, permit, nor consider ex parte or other communications concerning the merits of a pending judicial proceeding.This subsection does not prohibit communications concerning:
(a) uncontested administrative matters,
(b) uncontested procedural matters,
(c) magistrate duties and functions,
(d) determining where jurisdiction of an impending claim or dispute may lie,
(e) determining whether a claim or dispute might more appropriately be resolved in some other judicial or non-judicial forum,
(f) mitigating circumstances following a plea of nolo contendere or guilty for a fine-only offense, or
(g) any other matters where ex parte communications are contemplated or authorized by law.
D. A Part-time commissioner, master, magistrate, or referee of a court listed in 6A(1) above:
(1) shall comply with all provisions of this Code, except he or she is not required to comply with Canons 4D(2), 4E, 4F, 4G or 4H, and
(2) should not practice law in the court which he or she serves or in any court subject to the appellate jurisdiction of the court which he or she serves, or act as a lawyer in a proceeding in which he or she has served as a commissioner, master, magistrate, or referee, or in any other proceeding related thereto.
E. A Judge Pro Tempore, while acting as such:
(1) shall comply with all provisions of this Code applicable to the court on which he or she is serving, except he or she is not required to comply with Canons 4D(2), 4D(3), 4E, 4F,4G or 4H, and
(2) after serving as a judge pro tempore, should not act as a lawyer in a proceeding in which he or she has served as a judge or in any other proceeding related thereto.
F. A Senior Judge, or a former appellate or district judge, or a retired or former statutory county court judge who has consented to be subject to assignment as a judicial officer:
(1) shall comply with all the provisions of this Code except he or she is not required to comply with Canon 4D(2),4E, 4F,4G, or 4H, but
(2) should refrain from judicial service during the period of an extra-judicial appointment not permitted by Canon 4H.
G. Candidates for Judicial Office.
(1) Any person seeking elective judicial office listed in Canon 6A(1) shall be subject to the same standards of Canon 5 that are required of members of the judiciary.
(2) Any judge who violates this Code shall be subject to sanctions by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.
(3) Any lawyer who is a candidate seeking judicial office who violates Canon 5 or other relevant provisions of this Code is subject to disciplinary action by the State Bar of Texas.
(4) The conduct of any other candidate for elective judicial office, not subject to paragraphs (2) and (3) of this section, who violates Canon 5 or other relevant provisions of the Code is subject to review by the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, or the local District Attorney for appropriate action.
Any lawyer who contributes to the violation of Canons 3B(7), 3B(10), 4D(4), 5, or 6C(2), or other relevant provisions of this Code, is subject to disciplinary action by the State Bar of Texas.
Effective Date of Compliance
A person to whom this Code becomes applicable should arrange his or her affairs as soon as reasonably possible to comply with it.
Construction and Terminology of the Code
The Code of Judicial Conduct is intended to establish basic standards for ethical conduct of judges.It consists of specific rules set forth in Sections under broad captions called Canons.
The Sections are rules of reason, which should be applied consistent with constitutional requirements, statutes, other court rules and decisional law and in the context of all relevant circumstances.The Code is to be construed so as not to impinge on the essential independence of judges in making judicial decisions.
The Code is designed to provide guidance to judges and candidates for judicial office and to provide a structure for regulating conduct through the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.It is not designed or intended as a basis for civil liability or criminal prosecution.Furthermore, the purpose of the Code would be subverted if the Code were invoked by lawyers for mere tactical advantage in a proceeding.
It is not intended, however, that every transgression will result in disciplinary action.Whether disciplinary action is appropriate, and the degree of discipline to be imposed, should be determined through a reasonable and reasoned application of the text and should depend on such factors as the seriousness of the transgression, whether there is a pattern of improper activity and the effect of the improper activity on others or on the judicial system.
(1) "Shall" or "shall not" denotes binding obligations the violation of which can result in disciplinary action.
(2) "Should" or "should not" relates to aspirational goals and as a statement of what is or is not appropriate conduct but not as a binding rule under which a judge may be disciplined.
(3) "May" denotes permissible discretion or, depending on the context, refers to action that is not covered by specific proscriptions.
(4) "De minimis" denotes an insignificant interest that could not raise reasonable question as to a judge's impartiality.
(5) "Economic interest" denotes ownership of a more than de minimis legal or equitable interest,or a relationship as officer, director, advisor or other active participant in the affairs of a party, except that:
(i) ownership of an interest in a mutual or common investment fund that holds securities is not an economic interest in such securities unless the judge participates in the management of the fund or a proceeding pending or impending before the judge could substantially affect the value of the interest;
(ii) service by a judge as an officer, director, advisor or other active participant, in an educational, religious, charitable, fraternal, or civic organization or service by a judge's spouse, parent or child as an officer, director, advisor or other active participant in any organization does not create an economic interest in securities held by that organization;
(iii) a deposit in a financial institution, the proprietary interest of a policy holder in a mutual insurance company, of a depositor in a mutual savings association or of a member in a credit union, or a similar proprietary interest, is not an economic interest in the organization unless a proceeding pending or impending before the judge could substantially affect the value of the interest; and
(iv) ownership of government securities is not an economic interest in the issuer unless a proceeding pending or impending before the judge could substantially affect the value of the securities.
(6) "Fiduciary" includes such relationships as executor, administrator, trustee, and guardian.
(7) "Knowingly," "knowledge," "known" or "knows" denotes actual knowledge of the fact in question.A person's knowledge may be inferred from circumstances.
(8) "Law" denotes court rules as well as statutes, constitutional provisions and decisional law.
(9) "Member of the judge's (or the candidate's) family" denotes a spouse, child, grandchild, parent, grandparent or other relative or person with whom the candidate maintains a close familial relationship.
(10) "Family member residing in the judge's household" means any relative of a judge by blood or marriage, or a person treated by a judge as a member of the judge's family, who resides at the judge's household.
(11) "Require." The rules prescribing that a judge "require" certain conduct of others are, like all of the rules in this Code, rules of reason.The use of the term "require" in that context means a judge is to exercise reasonable direction and control over the conduct of those persons subject to the judge's direction and control.
(12) "Third degree of relationship."The following persons are relatives within the third degree of relationship: great-grandparent, grandparent, parent, uncle, aunt, brother, sister, child, grandchild, great-grandchild, nephew or niece.
(13) "Retired Judge" means a person who receives from the Texas Judicial Retirement System, Plan One or Plan Two, an annuity based on service that was credited to the system.(Secs. 831.001 and 836.001,V.T.C.A. Government Code [Ch. 179, Sec. 1, 71st Legislature (1989)]
(14) "Senior Judge" means a retired appellate or district judge who has consented to be subject to assignment pursuant to Section 75.001, Government Code. [Ch. 359, 69th Legislature, Reg. Session (1985)]
(15) "Statutory County Court Judge" means the judge of a county court created by the legislature under Article V, Section 1, of the Texas Constitution, including county courts at law, statutory probate courts, county criminal courts, county criminal courts of appeals, and county civil courts at law. (Sec. 21.009, V.T.C.A. Government Code [Ch. 2, Sec. 1601(18), 71st Legislature (1989)])
(16) "County Judge" means the judge of the county court created in each county by Article V, Section 15, of the Texas Constitution.(Sec. 21.009, V.T.C.A. Government Code [Ch. 2, Sec. 1601(18), 71st Legislature (1989)])
(17) "Part-time" means service on a continuing or periodic basis, but with permission by law to devote time to some other profession or occupation and for which the compensation for that reason is less than that for full-time service.
(18) "Judge Pro Tempore" means a person who is appointed to act temporarily as a judge.