Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Lawmaker Restraining Order

You must stay 100 feet from unethical behavior.

With little discussion and just a bit of tweaking, a proposed rule that would limit lawmakers' communication with judges and administrative law judges sailed through a legislative committee on Wednesday.

Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, has said that the need for the rule was illustrated, in part, by a scolding letter written by Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, to a judge who had ruled against Buttars' friend.

On Wednesday before the Senate Government Operations Committee, Valentine referred to the Buttars incident as a "very noteworthy" case, but not the only case where a lawmaker would have benefited from having some guidelines.

Senate Joint Rules Resolution 6 prohibits any communication with a judge or administrative law judge about a particular case until the case is concluded. The rule states that inquiries of a technical or logistical nature should be made to court administrators or clerks, rather than judges.

Also, legislators should praise or criticize a judge's judicial decision "only in an open, public forum," the rule says.

While I applaud the new rule, I'm disappointed by it's necessary. These people aren't children, right? They should know better.

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