Code of Conduct for United States Judges
Federal judges must abide by the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, a set of ethical principles and guidelines adopted by the Judicial Conference of the United States. The Code of Conduct provides guidance for judges on issues of judicial integrity and independence, judicial diligence and impartiality, permissible extra-judicial activities, and the avoidance of impropriety or even its appearance.
Judges may not hear cases in which they have either personal knowledge of the disputed facts, a personal bias concerning a party to the case, earlier involvement in the case as a lawyer, or a financial interest in any party or subject matter of the case.
Many federal judges devote time to public service and educational activities. They have a distinguished history of service to the legal profession through their writing, speaking, and teaching. This important role is recognized in the Code of Conduct, which encourages judges to engage in activities to improve the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice.
Published Advisory Opinions
The Judicial Conference of the United States has authorized its Committee on Codes of Conduct to publish formal advisory opinions on ethical issues that are frequently raised or have broad application. These opinions provide ethical guidance for judges and judicial employees and assist in the interpretation of the codes of conduct and ethics regulations that apply to the judiciary.
Code of Conduct for Judicial Employees
Employees of the federal Judiciary are expected to observe high standards of conduct so that the integrity and independence of the Judiciary are preserved and the judicial employee's office reflects a devotion to serving the public.
Code of Conduct for Federal Public Defender Employees
Code of Conduct for Federal Public Defender Employees (Guide to Judiciary Policy, Vol. 2. Pt. A, Ch. 4)
Judicial Conference Regulations
Judicial Conference Regulations on Gifts (Guide to Judiciary Policy, Vol. 2. Pt. C, Ch. 6)
Outside Earned Income, Honoraria, and Employment (Guide to Judiciary Policy, Vol. 2, Pt. C, Ch. 10)
Judicial Conference Regulations on Certificates of Divestiture (pdf) (Guide to Judiciary Policy, Vol. 2C, Ch. 2)
Judicial officers and certain judicial employees are required to file financial disclosure reports by the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, as amended. The Judicial Conference Committee on Financial Disclosure has been delegated responsibility for managing compliance with the Act and has approved financial disclosure regulations.
Financial Disclosure Regulations (Guide to Judiciary Policy, Vol. 2D)
Gifts to the Judicial Branch
This policy provides guidance on accepting gifts and voluntary and uncompensated (gratuitous) services on behalf of the judicial branch under the Administrative Office Director’s statutory authority. It does not address gifts to individual employees or officers of the judiciary.
Gifts to the Judicial Branch (Guide to Judiciary Policy, Vol. 2, Pt. C, Ch. 15)
Mandatory Conflict Screening Policy
This mandatory conflict-screening policy requires federal courts and judges to implement automated screening to help identify any financial conflicts of interest.
Mandatory Conflict Screening Policy (pdf) (Guide to Judiciary Policy, Vol. 2C, Ch. 4)
Social Media Resource Packet
Note: Several websites, including that of the Legal Information Institute, provide access to U.S. Code provisions and other legal content. The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts takes no responsibility for, and exercises no control over, the organizations, views, accuracy, copyright or trademark compliance or legality of the material contained on these sites. Links are merely provided for user convenience. Any questions or comments concerning a site should be directed to the institution that maintains it. The Administrative Office accepts no responsibility for, and does not endorse, any product, organization, or content at any linked site, or at any site to which that site may be linked. The Administrative Office accepts no responsibility for the availability or functionality of any link.