Code of Judicial Conduct: NH Adopts Improved Language — Better Than ABA Model on Self-Represented

Here is the recently adopted NH language on the self-represented.  The language is effective April 1, 2011, as part of an overall adoption of a version generally based on the ABA model.  I think it is  significant improvement on the ABA Model Code.

Rule 2.2  Impartiality and Fairness
(A) A judge shall uphold and apply the law, and shall perform all duties of judicial office fairly and impartially.
(B) A judge may make reasonable efforts, consistent with the law and court rules, to facilitate the ability of all litigants, including self-represented litigants, to be fairly heard.

[1] To ensure impartiality and fairness to all parties, a judge must be objective and open-minded.
[2] Although each judge comes to the bench with a unique background and personal philosophy, a judge must interpret and apply the law without regard to whether the judge approves or disapproves of the law in question.
[3] When applying and interpreting the law, a judge sometimes may make good-faith errors of fact or law. Errors of this kind do not violate this Rule.
[4] The growth in litigation involving self-represented litigants and the responsibility of courts to promote access to justice warrant reasonable flexibility by judges, consistent with the law and court rules, to ensure that all litigants are fairly heard.

I have underlined the language most relevant to the self-represented.

The nice things about this are:

1.  The access concept makes it into black letter rule text,

2.  “Flexibility” is referenced in the Comment, rather than “accommodations,” which sounds less like the ADA, and is more closely linked to traditional concepts of discretion.

3.  The Comment is explicit about the court’s responsibility to promote access to justice.

I remain particularly interested in hearing of developments with respect to this area.


About richardzorza

I am deeply involved in access to justice and the patient voice movement.
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