September 6, 2007
Digest: A judge is under no obligation to report an acquaintance’s misconduct to any authority, but may do so in his/her discretion.
Rules: Opinion 06-13; Joint Opinion 88-85/88-103 (Vol. III).
A judge has learned from an acquaintance that he/she stole money from his/her employer. The acquaintance has asked the judge for advice on how to proceed. The judge responded that he/she cannot give legal advice, and suggested that the acquaintance consult an attorney. The judge asks the Committee if he/she is under any obligation to report this individual to any law enforcement agency or other authority.
This Committee previously has determined that a judge who learns of criminal wrongdoing on the part of a witness or litigant during the course of his/her judicial duties is not required to report the witness/litigant to the authorities, but may do so in his/her discretion (see Opinion 06-13; Joint Opinion 88-85/88-103 [Vol. III]).
Thus, the judge in the present inquiry is under no obligation to report an acquaintance’s misconduct to any authority, but may do so in his/her discretion.