RULE XXXV. Judicial Campaign Oversight Committee
Section 1. Composition; General Duties; Terms of Office. The Louisiana Judicial Campaign Oversight Committee shall consist of fifteen members appointed by the Court. The Committee shall include sitting or retired judges, lawyers, and other citizens who are neither lawyers nor judges. One of the judge or lawyer members shall be designated by the Court to chair the work of the Committee. Initial appointments of Committee members shall be for staggered terms. Thereafter, members shall be appointed for four year terms of office. Committee members may be reappointed for two additional terms of office.
[Amended effective September 23, 2008]
The Louisiana Judicial Campaign Oversight Committee shall:
The Oversight Committee is not affiliated with the Judiciary Commission or the Committee on Judicial Ethics. The Committee does have the right, as any citizen would, of filing a complaint with the Judiciary Commission relative to conduct it finds problematic.
Section 2. Covered elections. The Committee's oversight jurisdiction extends to supreme court, appellate court, district court, juvenile court, family court, parish court, city and municipal court, and traffic court elections. The Committee shall have no jurisdiction over justice of the peace elections.
Section 3. Oversight Jurisdiction; authority to issue public statements. Complaints concerning judicial campaign conduct shall be forwarded in writing. The Committee may only review and investigate any complaint which alleges facts that, if true, would constitute a violation of the following Canons, or partial Canons, of the Louisiana Code of Judicial Conduct:
(1) The judge or judicial candidate acted as a leader or held any office in a political organization (Canon 7A(1));
(2) The judge or judicial candidate publicly endorsed or publicly opposed another candidate for public office (Canon 7A(2));
(3) The judge or judicial candidate made speeches on behalf of a political organization or a candidate for public office (Canon 7A(3));
(4) The judge or judicial candidate solicited funds for, paid an assessment to, or made a contribution to another candidate for public office (Canon 7A(4));
(5) The judge or judicial candidate solicited funds for a political organization (Canon 7A(4));
(6) The judge or judicial candidate, in connection with cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court, made commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of judicial office (Canon 7A(11));
(7) The judge or judicial candidate knowingly made, or caused to be made, a false statement concerning the identity, qualifications, present position or other fact concerning the candidate or an opponent (Canon 7A(9));
(8) The judge or judicial candidate personally solicited or personally accepted campaign contributions in violation of Canon 7A(6) of the Louisiana Code of Judicial Conduct;
(9) The judge or judicial candidate authorized or knowingly permitted any person to do for the judge or judicial candidate what the judge or judicial candidate is prohibited from doing concerning the Canons which fall within the Committee's oversight jurisdiction (Canon 7B(4));
(10) The judge or judicial candidate, while a matter is pending in any Louisiana state court, made any statement that would reasonably be expected to affect the outcome of the matter or impair its fairness (Canon 7A(10));
(11) The judge or judicial candidate used court staff, facilities, or other court resources in a campaign for judicial office, except to the extent that such use was de minimis in nature (Canon 7A(8));
(12) The judge or judicial candidate did not review and approve the content of all political advertisements produced by the judge or judicial candidate or his or her campaign committee, as authorized by Canon 7D, before their dissemination (Canon 7B(2)); or
(13) The judge or judicial candidate did not take reasonable measures to ensure that other persons not undertake, on behalf of the judge or judicial candidate, any activities which are prohibited under the Canons which fall within the Committee’s oversight jurisdiction (Canon 7B(3))
Any complaint which does not allege facts which, if true, would constitute a violation of these thirteen provisions shall be dismissed. If the information contained in the complaint alleges facts which, if true, would constitute unethical campaign conduct falling within the Committee's oversight jurisdiction, as defined above, the Committee shall review and investigate the matter and attempt to resolve the complaint informally. During the course of its review, the Committee may solicit a response to the complaint from the respondent candidate.
At the conclusion of its investigation, the Committee may issue a public statement concerning the campaign conduct, including disclosure of the fact that a complaint has been made, provided at least eight members determine clear and convincing evidence exists that a violation has occurred, and after the respondent has been given notice and an opportunity to respond.
Committee deliberations regarding judicial campaign conduct are confidential.
The Committee may dismiss any complaint which is frivolous, repetitive, or harassing in nature. No appeal rights shall exist in favor of any complainant when the Committee exercises its discretion to dismiss a complaint.
In furtherance of its role as a resource for judges and judicial candidates, the Committee and its members may offer advice and consultation to judges and candidates concerning any canon of the Code of Judicial Conduct, or concerning judicial campaign conduct in general, at educational seminars or in response to a request or inquiry from a judge or candidate. However, the Committee may not issue a public statement concerning any complaint or campaign conduct which does not fall within its oversight jurisdiction, as defined above.
The Judicial Campaign Oversight Committee has no enforcement power or disciplinary authority. The Committee may, however, issue public statements in accordance with these rules.
The fast moving nature of judicial campaigns militates against conferring authority upon the Oversight Committee to promulgate formal, written advisory opinions.
[amended effective April 26, 2012]
Section 4. Sua Sponte Action. The Committee may only review and investigate campaign conduct which falls within its oversight jurisdiction, as defined in Section 3, in the absence of the filing of a campaign conduct complaint, provided two-thirds of the Committee members vote in favor of conducting such an investigation. The Committee may issue a public statement relative to campaign conduct which is not the subject of a written complaint, provided at least eight members determine clear and convincing evidence exists that a violation has occurred, and the respondent candidate has been given notice and an opportunity to respond. [amended effective July 1, 2008]
In its role as a resource for candidates, the Committee also would have the authority to "preview" judicial campaign advertisements to be run by a judicial candidate, when asked to do so by that candidate.
Following review and investigation, it is envisioned that the Committee would vote as to whether it should issue a public statement pertaining to conduct it finds to be unethical.
Section 5. Disclosure of Complaints. Complaints shall be confidential until such time as the Committee decides to issue a public statement, the Committee or its Chair decides to dismiss the complaint, or the respondent waives confidentiality, whichever occurs sooner. Complaint forms and campaign conduct pledges used by the Committee shall include language which notifies complainants and candidates of this restriction.
The respondent candidate may, at any time after a complaint is filed, and through written notice directed to the complainant and the Committee, waive the confidentiality provisions of these rules. In that event, the complaint, response, and Oversight Committee disposition (if any) shall become matters of public record. Committee investigatory and deliberation materials shall remain confidential. [Repealed and reenacted effective March 9, 2006]
Section 6. Political Involvement in Elections. Members of the Judicial Campaign Oversight Committee shall be regulated and constrained in their political activities, in the same fashion as judges and judicial candidates, by Canon 7 of the Louisiana Code of Judicial Conduct . [Amended effective May 21, 2002]
Section 7. Immunity. Members of the Judicial Campaign Oversight Committee and staff shall be immune from civil suit for any conduct in the course of their official duties.
Section 8. Rulemaking. The Committee may promulgate rules pertaining to its operations and procedures , including rules for expeditiously handling complaints which arise during the last two weeks of judicial campaigns.
The Committee may utilize a complaint form to help facilitate the filing of judicial campaign conduct complaints. In addition, the Committee may ask judicial candidates to voluntarily sign a campaign conduct pledge . Campaign conduct pledges shall be matters of public record.
Committee rules , complaint forms and campaign conduct pledges shall become effective and may be utilized following approval by this Court.
[Added, effective April 15, 2002]