CARSON CITY — The board that oversees ethical conduct of judges decided Friday that it was appropriate for a judge to send a letter to the Legislature in support of funding the state’s Family to Family program.
The unidentified judge had asked the Committee On Judicial Ethics and Election Practices if it would be appropriate for him to send the letter since he refers parents to this program where they receive training on providing proper discipline, nutrition and a safe environment for their children. The judge believes without the program — which is scheduled for cuts — his options in custody cases would be limited and parents might lose custody or visitation rights.
In an advisory opinion, the committee said a judge can provide testimony to the Legislature “so long as the subject matter concerns the law, legal system, provision of legal services or administration of justice.”
The committee said under the canon of judicial ethics a judge should not “appear voluntarily” at a public hearing, or consult with a legislative body except on matters concerning the law or in connection with matters on which the judge has “acquired knowledge or expertise” in the course of his judicial duties.
The opinion comes at a time when at least one judge has testified in support of a bill before the Legislature. Clark County District Judge Kathleen Delaney on March 25 told legislators if they didn’t pass a bill outlawing job discrimination against transgender people, then “that is tantamount of allowing discrimination to continue.”
Assembly Commerce and Labor Chairman Kelvin Atkinson, D-North Las Vegas, bristled at her comments, calling them “inappropriate and unfair.” But Delaney said she “knows for a fact” that transgender people regularly face job discrimination.
Atkinson also complained that Delaney had identified herself a judge, and did not say she was speaking as a private citizen. She later apologized to him.
Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at email@example.com or 775-687-3900.