Judicial Ethics & Bench Books

Judicial Ethics

Our legal system is based on the principle that an independent, fair and competent judiciary will interpret and apply the laws that govern us. The role of the judiciary is central to American concepts of justice and the rule of law. Judges, individually and collectively, must respect and honor the judicial office as a public trust and strive to enhance and maintain confidence in our legal system. The judge is an arbiter of facts and law for the resolution of disputes and a highly visible symbol of government under the rule of law.

The Code of Judicial Conduct is promulgated by the Supreme Court of Texas and is intended to establish basic standards for ethical conduct of judges. It consists of specific rules set forth under broad captions called Canons. The Code is designed to provide guidance to judges and candidates for judicial office and to provide a structure for regulating conduct through the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

The State Commission on Judicial Conduct is the independent Texas state agency created by Article 5, Section 1-a of the Texas Constitution. It is responsible for investigating allegations of judicial misconduct or judicial disability, and for disciplining judges. The Commission consists of 13 commission members who each serve six-year terms. The Commission has jurisdiction, or authority, over the following Texas judges: municipal judges, magistrates, justices of the peace, constitutional county judges who perform judicial duties, county court at law judges, statutory probate judges, district judges, appellate judges, retired and former judges sitting by assignment, and associate judges and masters.

Judicial Bench Books

Several organizations publish judicial bench books to assist judges with performing their duties.