HARRISBURG (May 11, 2012) - The Pennsylvania Bar Association has established a task force to recommend updates and revisions to the existing Pennsylvania Code of Judicial Conduct, which has not been updated since 2005.
Appointed by PBA President Thomas G. Wilkinson Jr., the task force is composed of PBA members from across the state, including retired trial and appellate judges, who have broad experience in judicial and legal ethics. Bridget E. Montgomery of Harrisburg and Abraham C. Reich of Philadelphia will serve as the task force's co-chairs.
"This is an important opportunity to provide clearer guidance to our judges that we hope and expect that judges will find helpful in practice," said Wilkinson. "Lawyers and their clients also will benefit from updated rules of conduct because they enhance public confidence in the fairness, integrity and impartiality of the judiciary."
The task force will conduct a thorough review of the ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct, which provides guidance to judges on a variety of important ethical matters such as standards for disqualification and recusal from cases to avoid an appearance of impropriety or bias. The task force also will focus on the related issues of the adequacy of the code's standards for disclosure of judicial campaign contributions and gifts. It will work alongside an ad hoc committee chaired by Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge Anne Lazarus and charged by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court with examining and proposing potential changes to Pennsylvania's judicial code of conduct.
Wilkinson said the PBA task force would consider the proposals made available for public comment by the ad hoc committee or the Supreme Court and will cooperate and coordinate with that committee to the extent possible in making appropriate recommendations to the Supreme Court for consideration.
The task force's report and recommendations will be presented to the PBA Board of Governors and the House of Delegates for consideration and approval before delivery to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Wilkinson said the task force would be asked to complete its work during the upcoming bar year.
In addition to Montgomery and Reich, members of the task force include William I. Arbuckle III of State College; Robert L. Byer of Pittsburgh; Hope A. Comisky of Philadelphia; Chester C. Corse Jr. of Pottsville; Abraham J. Gafni of Philadelphia; Vincent J. Grogan of Pittsburgh; Nancy L. Heilman of Pittsburgh; Christine H. McClure of Erie; Royce L. Morris of Harrisburg; and Kenneth G. Vasil of Erie.
Founded in 1895, the Pennsylvania Bar Association strives to promote justice, professional excellence and respect for the law; improve public understanding of the legal system; facilitate access to legal services; and serve the 28,000 lawyers who are members of the association.