Opinions & Resources

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The Board issues Advisory Opinions and Formal Opinions on issues of proper judicial conduct under the Code of Judicial Conduct.  “The board may issue advisory opinions on proper judicial conduct with respect to the provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct.” Rule 2(a)(2), R. Bd. Jud. Stds. The Board’s Opinions are not binding on the Minnesota Supreme Court or on hearing panels appointed by the Court. Rule 2(a)(2), R. Bd. Jud. Stds. The Board and its Executive Secretary also provide other educational resources and materials.

The Board issues Advisory Opinions on request, to judges and judicial candidates, regarding their own contemplated future conduct. Advisory Opinions are usually brief and are limited to particular facts. The Board’s website includes a Summary of Advisory Opinions. The Summary is indexed by topic.  The full texts of informal opinions have not been posted, to protect confidentiality. However, in 2013, the Board decided that, when an Advisory Opinion includes reasoning and authorities of general applicability and interest, the opinion will be posted in a form that does not disclose the identity of the judge requesting the opinion.

In 2013, the Board began issuing Formal Opinions, in full text form. Formal Opinions normally address issues that frequently arise. Formal Opinions provide authorities, discussion, reasoning, and conclusions.

The Board has authorized its Executive Secretary to respond to informal opinion requests, where the response is readily determinable and not controversial.

In addition to these opinions, the Board posts on this website links to other educational resources and materials.

For general research on matters of judicial ethics, the Board relies primarily on the Code of Judicial Conduct (rev. 2009), and on decisions by the Minnesota Supreme Court and the Minnesota Court of Appeals. The Board also consults ABA Formal Opinions and opinions of judicial ethics boards in other states. The Board also considers commentaries, including the ABA Annotated Model Code of Judicial Conduct, and GEYH, Judicial Conduct and Ethics (5th ed. 2013). The Center for Judicial Ethics also provides materials that can be useful in considering judicial ethics. Authorities and comments that are based on versions of the Code of Judicial Conduct prior to the current Code (2009) should be used with caution.