The Commission on Judicial Qualifications and any Masters duly appointed, shall follow the constitutional provisions for said commission and the statutes contained in Chapter 24, Article (7) as well as the rules hereinafter set forth.
In the absence of fraud, corrupt motive or bad faith, the commission shall not take action against a judge or justice for making findings of fact, reaching a legal conclusion or applying the law as he or she understands it. Claims of error shall be left to the appellate process. (Source ABA Std. 3.4)
(A) The commission, upon receiving a written complaint or request alleging facts indicating that a justice or judge is subject to discipline, removal, or retirement as provided in Neb. Rev. Stat. § 24‑722, shall make an initial informal inquiry to determine whether a preliminary investigation should be conducted. The commission without receiving a written statement, and for good cause, may make such an informal inquiry or initiate an investigation on its own.
(C) The matter may be referred by the commission or the commission chairperson to a committee or one or more members of the commission, commission staff, or to a special investigator to conduct such informal inquiry as may be required, consider such evidence as deemed necessary, and report. The committee, staff person, or special investigator shall report whether it finds the complaint to be unfounded, frivolous, or whether it has substance requiring a preliminary investigation. The report shall be considered and passed upon by the commission. The chairperson shall have the discretion of presenting the report to the commission either
(D) Upon determination that there is insufficient cause to proceed, the complainant, if any, shall be notified. If the judge has been informed of the proceedings, he or she shall also be notified of its termination, and the file shall be closed.
(C) The commission, as a body, may conduct such preliminary investigation. The commission, acting as a body or by a committee of its members, may authorize the employment and use of a non-member investigator.
(D) The judge/justice shall be notified of the investigation, the nature of the complaint or request, and the name of the person making the written statement, if any, or that the investigation is being made on the committee's motion; and that he or she shall be afforded a reasonable opportunity in the course of the preliminary investigation to present such relevant matters as he or she may choose. At that time the judge/justice shall be furnished a copy of these rules.
(E)(1) The commission may take evidence before it or any individual member of the commission or its staff for the purpose of its preliminary investigation. Discovery proceedings may be had at the request of the respondent upon application made to the commission or master and good cause shown.
(F) The preliminary investigation shall be conducted without delay, and all progress, final, and supplemental reports shall be promptly filed with the secretary. All such reports shall be considered by the commission in formal session.
(G) If the commission finds that the reported preliminary investigation does not disclose sufficient statutory cause to warrant further investigation or proceedings, the judge/justice and the person, if any, filing the written complaint or request, shall be so notified in writing by the chairperson. Such formal action of the commission in dismissing a complaint or request does not necessarily adopt all the reasoning or conclusions of the investigative report.
(H) If the commission finds from the preliminary investigation that there is probable cause for the judge/justice to be subject to disciplinary action or retirement specified in Neb. Rev. Stat. § 24-722, it shall either:
(1) Reprimand the judge/justice after having held a formal closed hearing; such hearing is to be conducted in the same manner as is a formal open hearing except that the hearing shall be closed and all documents and reports arising out of the hearing shall be confidential, or
(I) If the preliminary investigation does not disclose sufficient statutory cause to warrant further investigation or proceedings and the matter is dismissed under § 5-104(G) or if a reprimand is issued under § 5-104(H), the evidence on said complaint or complaints shall be considered the same as any other evidence in the event a subsequent formal hearing is held on a complaint concerning the reprimand, discipline, censure, suspension, removal or retirement of such judge/justice.
(J) If a reprimand is issued under § 5-104(H)(1) the commission shall issue a statement outlining the subject and nature of the complaint leading to the reprimand and the date and location of the hearing which was held prior to the issuance of the reprimand.
(A) If after the preliminary investigation has been completed, the commission concludes that a formal hearing shall be held, the cause shall be entered in a docket to be kept for that purpose. The complaint shall be entitled: "Before the Commission on Judicial Qualifications, complaint against __________, judge, No. __________."
(B) A complaint shall be in a form similar to a complaint filed in a civil action in the district court. It shall be filed in the office of the Clerk of the Supreme Court, there to become a public record, and a copy shall be promptly served on the respondent, either by certified mail or personally. If the respondent cannot be found in the State of Nebraska, service may be had by leaving a copy at respondent's last known Nebraska address.
(A) Within fifteen (15) days after service of the complaint, the respondent shall file with the commission an answer. The answer shall be in form similar to an answer in a civil action in the district court. It shall contain a full and fair disclosure of all facts and circumstances pertaining to his or her alleged misconduct or physical or mental disability. Any willful concealment, misrepresentation, or failure to file such an answer and disclosure, shall be additional grounds for disciplinary action under the complaint.
(A) Upon the filing of a complaint, the commission shall set a time and place of hearing before itself and give notice of such hearing to the respondent at least twenty (20) days prior to the date set, or shall direct that such hearing be held before a master to be appointed by the Supreme Court.
(B) If the commission directs that the hearing be held before a master to be appointed by the Supreme Court, the commission shall file a written request to the Supreme Court to appoint a master for such purpose accompanied by a copy of the complaint. The Supreme Court shall within ten (10) days from receipt of said request, appoint a master to conduct such hearing. Said master shall set a time and place of hearing and shall give notice thereof to the respondent and to the Attorney General or special counsel at least twenty (20) days prior to the date set. The master shall rule on all motions and other procedural matters incident to the complaint, answer and hearing, subject to review by the commission after filing of the master's report.
(A) At the time and place set for hearing, the commission, or the master when the hearing is before a master, shall proceed with a public hearing which as nearly as may be shall conform to the rules of procedure and evidence governing the trial of civil actions in the district courts, whether or not the respondent has filed an answer or appears at the hearing. The Attorney General or special counsel shall present the evidence in support of the charges set forth in the complaint. A respondent shall be entitled to be represented by counsel. Any employee, officer or agent of respondent's court, any law enforcement officer, any public officer or employee, and any attorney, who testifies as a witness in such hearing, whether called by the Attorney General or special counsel or by the respondent, shall be subject to cross-examination by either party in like manner as an opposite party under the rules of civil procedure.
(B) The failure of the respondent to answer or to appear at the hearing, shall not, standing alone, be taken as evidence of the truth of the facts alleged to constitute grounds for commission action. The failure of the respondent to answer, to testify in his own behalf, or to submit to a medical examination requested by the commission or the master, may be considered as an evidentiary fact, unless it appears that such failure was due to circumstances unrelated to the facts in issue at the hearing.
(D) When the hearing is before the commission, not less than a majority of the members shall be present while the hearing is in actual progress. Procedural and other interlocutory rulings shall be made by the chairman, the acting chairman in the absence of the chairman, and any member designated by the chairman in the absence of both the chairman and the acting chairman, unless one or more calls for a vote, in which event, such rulings shall be made by a majority vote of those present.
At the request of the commission, the master, the Attorney General, special counsel, or counsel for respondent, subpoenas for the attendance of witnesses and the production of documents before the commission or master, shall be issued by the chairman and served by an individual or officer appointed for that purpose in the county in which the hearing is to be held in like manner and with like effect as in civil proceedings.
The master, at any time prior to the conclusion of the hearing, or the commission at any time prior to its determination, may allow or require amendments to the complaint or answer. The complaint may be amended to conform to the proofs or to set forth additional facts, whether occurring before or after the commencement of the hearing. In case such an amendment is made, the respondent shall be given reasonable time both to answer the amendment and to prepare and present his defense against the matters charged thereby.
Within thirty (30) days after the conclusion of the hearing before a master, he or she shall promptly prepare and transmit to the commission in triplicate a report which shall contain a brief statement of the proceedings had and his or her findings of fact and conclusions of law with respect to the issue presented by the complaint and answer. The report shall be accompanied by three copies of the transcript of the proceedings before the master. Upon receiving such report and transcript, the commission shall promptly send a copy thereof to the respondent and the Attorney General or special counsel. The transcript of the proceedings before the master shall be filed. The master's report shall be received by the commission, but shall not be filed or made public until the filing of the commission decision, pursuant to § 5-115.
Within fifteen (15) days after mailing to respondent a copy of the master's report and transcript, the Attorney General, special counsel or respondent may file with the commission an original and ten (10) copies of a statement setting forth objections to the report of the master along with supporting briefs. A copy of any such statement and brief shall be served on the opposite party.
When the master files his report, the commission shall set a date for hearing any objections to the report. The respondent and the Attorney General or special counsel, shall file written briefs if any are filed at least five (5) days before the hearing date. The respondent and the Attorney General or special counsel may present oral arguments at the hearing.
The commission or its chairman may extend for periods not to exceed thirty (30) days the time for filing an answer, for the commencement of a hearing before the commission, for the filing of the report of a master, and for filing a statement of the objections to the report of a master, and a master may similarly extend the time for the commencement of a hearing before him or her.
(A) The affirmative vote of a majority of the members of the commission all of whom shall have considered the report of the master and objections thereto, and who were present at any oral hearing provided for in § 5-113, or if the hearing was before the commission without a master, the affirmative vote of a majority of the members of the commission, all of whom were present when the evidence was taken, is required for a recommendation for action, upon a finding that the charges are established by clear and convincing evidence. In the absence of such votes, an order of dismissal of the complaint shall be entered by the commission.
(B) The commission shall make written findings of fact and conclusions of law along with its recommendations for action thereon with respect to the issues of fact and law in the proceedings, but may instead, adopt the findings of the master, in whole or in part, by reference thereto.
Upon making a determination, recommending action against a judge or justice, the commission shall promptly file a copy of the recommendation certified by the chairman, together with the transcript and the findings and conclusions with the Clerk of the Nebraska Supreme Court, who shall immediately send by registered mail to the judge or justice and to his counsel, notice of such filing, together with a copy of such recommendation, findings and conclusions.
(A) Petition: Within twenty (20) days of the filing of the recommendation in the Supreme Court under § 5-116, the respondent may file with the Clerk of the Supreme Court a petition asking the Supreme Court to modify or reject the recommendation of the commission. The respondent shall file with the petition a certified copy of the recommendation or recommendations about which complaint is made. The petition shall be verified in seven (7) copies, shall be based on the record, shall specify the grounds relied on, and shall be accompanied by respondent's brief in seven (7) copies and proof of service of a copy of the petition and of the brief on the chairman of the commission. Within twenty (20) days after service on the commission, the commission shall serve and file a relator's brief. Within fifteen (15) days after service of such brief, the respondent may file a reply brief of which a copy shall be served on the chairman of the commission.
(C) Applicable rules: The Rules of the Supreme Court of Nebraska shall apply to the proceedings in the Supreme Court for review of a recommendation of the commission, except where express provision is made to the contrary or where the application of a particular rule would be clearly impracticable, inappropriate, or inconsistent.
The Supreme Court shall review the record of the proceedings on the law and facts and shall file a written opinion and judgment directing action as it deems just and proper, or reject or modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation of the commission.
The commission shall cause to be paid out of funds available for this purpose, all reasonable costs, fees, and expenses incurred in administering these rules. No cost shall be assessed against a judge or a justice who is exonerated. In cases where action is taken, costs shall be equitably assessed.
(A) Voluntary Application: Any judge, or the guardian of any judge, who has become or is likely to become permanently, mentally or physically, disabled as provided in Neb. Rev. Stat. § 24-709, may file an application with the commission, furnishing such information as the commission may require, including, but not limited to, the furnishing of physician's statements, and such other evidence and proof of disability as the commission deems necessary.
The commission may require the judge to be examined by a physician selected by the commission at a time and place designated by the commission. If the commission determines that a judge is so permanently disabled, the commission shall notify the judge and the Public Employees Retirement Board and the judge shall be placed on retirement at a time designated by the commission and receive a retirement annuity as provided in Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 24-709 and 24-710.
(B) On Motion of the Commission: The commission may, on its own motion, require a judge or the judge's guardian to furnish such information as the commission requires concerning the mental or physical condition of the judge, or require the judge to submit to a medical examination at a time and place as ordered by the commission under the provisions of Neb. Rev. Stat. § 24-722.
In cases where the commission institutes proceedings on its own motion, the procedures set forth in §§ 5-105 through 5-119 shall be followed, except where clearly impracticable, inappropriate, or inconsistent.
Upon an order for retirement by the commission, or by the Supreme Court when a commission order is reviewed by the court, the judge shall thereby be retired and the Public Employees Retirement Board promptly notified and the judge shall thereupon receive a retirement annuity the same as if the judge had been retired by application as above set forth.
(A) All papers filed with and proceedings before the commission or masters appointed by the Supreme Court prior to a reprimand or formal hearing shall be confidential. However, the confidentiality of such papers and proceedings may be waived in writing by a judge or a former judge
(B) Even in the absence of such written waiver by a judge or former judge, the commission may immediately forward a copy of any complaint to such judge if the complainant makes a copy of such complaint public.
When any matter is filed with the commission, any member of the commission, or the secretary of the commission in which an allegation is made that a judge has committed an act in violation of the Supreme Court's Workplace Harassment Policy, that allegation shall be brought to the attention of the commission chairperson or the commission secretary within two (2) working days. The commission chairperson or the commission secretary shall:
(B) Send notice of the allegation(s) along with a warning against retaliation to the judge against whom the allegation(s) have been made no later than ten (10) working days after receipt of the complaint;
(D) The commission, investigators, and commission staff shall in all ways expedite processing of allegation(s) made concerning workplace harassment, and the cause shall be advanced for consideration and disposition as speedily as possible.
(A) The following information is provided for your benefit in connection with the operation of the Judicial Qualifications Commission. This information does not comprise all of the laws with regard to the Nebraska Judicial Qualifications Commission and is intended simply to give you some general information. Should you have more specific questions with regard to the Judicial Qualifications Commission, you should contact: Commission Secretary, 1220 State Capitol, P.O. Box 98910, Lincoln, NE 68509; phone (402) 471-3730.
(B) Article V, Section 28, of the Nebraska Constitution provides for the creation of a Commission on Judicial Qualifications.
(D) Article V, Section 30, of the Nebraska Constitution and Neb. Rev. Stat. § 24-722 specifically set out the grounds for which a judge may be reprimanded, disciplined, censured, suspended without pay for a definite period of time not to exceed six months, or removed from office. The grounds are the following:
(E) The Commission is not authorized to review decisions made by a judge or to grant any form of relief arising out of a lawsuit except to the extent that the action of the judge action in the case constitutes a violation of one of the grounds set out above.
(F) Upon receiving the complaint, the Commission is authorized to make such investigation as it deems appropriate under the circumstances and upon a finding of probable cause, may reprimand the judge or may order a formal hearing to be held before it concerning the reprimand, discipline, censure, suspension, removal, or retirement of such judge. After a formal hearing, the Commission must find that the charges are established by clear and convincing evidence. If it finds that such charges are established by clear and convincing evidence, it then recommends to the Supreme Court what action should be taken. The Supreme Court then reviews the record and makes such determination as it finds just and proper.
NO PARTICULAR FORM NEED BE USED WHEN FILING A COMPLAINT. THE ATTACHED FORM IS PROVIDED FOR YOUR CONVENIENCE. YOU NEED NOT FILL IT OUT IF YOU DESIRE NOT TO AND MAY MAKE COMPLAINT BY SIMPLY SENDING A HANDWRITTEN LETTER TO THE COMMISSION OR ANY MEMBER THEREOF.
(cite as Neb. Rev. Code of Judicial Conduct §)
The Nebraska Revised Code of Judicial Conduct is placed in the Nebraska Court Rules at Chapter 5, Judges, Article 3, Nebraska Revised Code of Judicial Conduct. As with the Nebraska Rules of Professional Conduct, the Nebraska Revised Code of Judicial Conduct has been codified by section numbers reflecting its location at Chapter 5, Article 3, but will retain the 1.1 through 4.5 numbering system used in the 2007 ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct which was the prototype for the Nebraska Revised Code. Thus, for example, Rule 1.1 of the 2007 ABA Model Code becomes Neb. Rev. Code of Judicial Conduct § 5-301.1, and Rule 4.5 becomes § 5‑304.5. References within the Rules and the Comments remain unchanged so, for example, the reader may interpret a reference to Rule 2.3 and find it at Neb. Rev. Code of Judicial Conduct § 5-302.3.
 An independent, fair and impartial judiciary is indispensable to our system of justice. The Nebraska legal system is based upon the principle that an independent, impartial, and competent judiciary, composed of men and women of integrity, will interpret and apply the law that governs our society. Thus, the judiciary plays a central role in preserving the principles of justice and the rule of law. Inherent in all the Rules contained in this Code are the precepts that judges, individually and collectively, must respect and honor the judicial office as a public trust and strive to maintain and enhance confidence in the legal system.
 Judges should maintain the dignity of judicial office at all times, and avoid both impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in their professional and personal lives. They should aspire at all times to conduct that ensures the greatest possible public confidence in their independence, impartiality, integrity, and competence.
 The Nebraska Revised Code of Judicial Conduct establishes standards for the ethical conduct of judges and judicial candidates. It is not intended as an exhaustive guide for the conduct of judges and judicial candidates, who are governed in their judicial and personal conduct by general ethical standards as well as by the Code. The Code is intended, however, to provide guidance and assist judges in maintaining the highest standards of judicial and personal conduct, and to provide a basis for regulating their conduct through disciplinary agencies.
 The Nebraska Revised Code of Judicial Conduct consists of four Canons, numbered Rules under each Canon, and Comments that generally follow and explain each Rule. Scope and Terminology sections provide additional guidance in interpreting and applying the Code. An Application section establishes when the various Rules apply to a judge or judicial candidate.
 The Canons state overarching principles of judicial ethics that all judges must observe. Although a judge may be disciplined only for violating a Rule, the Canons provide important guidance in interpreting the Rules. Where a Rule contains a permissive term, such as “may” or “should,” the conduct being addressed is committed to the personal and professional discretion of the judge or candidate in question, and no disciplinary action should be taken for action or inaction within the bounds of such discretion.
 The Comments that accompany the Rules serve two functions. First, they provide guidance regarding the purpose, meaning, and proper application of the Rules. They contain explanatory material and, in some instances, provide examples of permitted or prohibited conduct. Comments neither add to nor subtract from the binding obligations set forth in the Rules. Therefore, when a Comment contains the term “must,” it does not mean that the Comment itself is binding or enforceable; it signifies that the Rule in question, properly understood, is obligatory as to the conduct at issue.
 Second, the Comments identify aspirational goals for judges. To implement fully the principles of this Code as articulated in the Canons, judges should strive to exceed the standards of conduct established by the Rules, holding themselves to the highest ethical standards and seeking to achieve those aspirational goals, thereby enhancing the dignity of the judicial office.
 The Rules of the Nebraska Revised Code of Judicial Conduct are rules of reason that should be applied consistent with constitutional requirements, statutes, other court rules, and decisional law, and with due regard for all relevant circumstances. The Rules should not be interpreted to impinge upon the essential independence of judges in making judicial decisions.
 Although the black letter of the Rules is binding and enforceable, it is not contemplated that every transgression will result in the imposition of discipline. Whether discipline should be imposed should be determined through a reasonable and reasoned application of the Rules, and should depend upon factors such as the seriousness of the transgression, the facts and circumstances that existed at the time of the transgression, the extent of any pattern of improper activity, whether there have been previous violations, and the effect of the improper activity upon the judicial system or others.
 The Code is not designed or intended as a basis for civil or criminal liability. Neither is it intended to be the basis for litigants to seek collateral remedies against each other or to obtain tactical advantages in proceedings before a court.
The first time any term listed below is used in a Rule in its defined sense, it is followed by an asterisk (*).
“Compensation” for purposes of Rules 3.12, 3.15, and 3.16 means any money or thing of value received, or to be received as a claim on future services, whether in the form of a fee, salary, expense, allowance, forbearance, forgiveness, interest, dividend, royalty, rent, capital gain, or any other form of recompense then constituting income under the Internal Revenue Code. The income must, however, be for services and does not include income, interest, or dividends received by reason of investment.
“Contribution” means both financial and in-kind contributions, such as goods, professional or volunteer services, advertising, and other types of assistance, which, if obtained by the recipient otherwise, would require a financial expenditure. See Rules 3.7, 3.16, 4.1, and 4.4.
“De minimis” means an insignificant interest that could not raise a reasonable question regarding the judge’s impartiality. See Rule 2.11.
“Domestic partner” means a person with whom another person maintains a household and an intimate relationship, other than a person to whom he or she is legally married. See Rules 2.11, 3.13, and 3.14.
“Economic interest” means ownership of more than a de minimis legal or equitable interest. Except for situations in which the judge participates in the management of such a legal or equitable interest, or the interest could be substantially affected by the outcome of a proceeding before a judge, it does not include:
(1) an interest in the individual holdings within a mutual or common investment fund;
(2) an interest in securities held by an educational, religious, charitable, fraternal, or civic organization in which the judge or the judge’s spouse, domestic partner, parent, or child serves as a director, an officer, an advisor, or other participant;
(3) a deposit in a financial institution or deposits or proprietary interests the judge may maintain as a member of a mutual savings association or credit union, or similar proprietary interests; or
(4) an interest in the issuer of government securities held by the judge.
See Rules 1.3, 2.11, and 3.2.
“Fourth degree of relationship” includes the following persons: great-great-grandparent, great-uncle or great-aunt, brother, sister, great-great-grandchild, grand nephew or grand niece, or first cousin. See Rule 2.11.
“Gift” for purposes of Rules 3.13, 3.15, and 3.16 means a payment, subscription, advance, forbearance, rendering or deposit of money, services, or anything of value, unless consideration of equal or greater value is given therefor. Gift shall not include a commercially reasonable loan made in the ordinary course of business; a gift received from a member of the judge's family*; a breakfast, luncheon, or dinner, or other refreshments consisting of food and beverage provided for immediate consumption; or the occasional provision of transportation within the State of Nebraska.
“Impartial,” “impartiality,” and “impartially” mean absence of bias or prejudice in favor of, or against, particular parties or classes of parties, or their representatives, as well as maintenance of an open mind in considering issues that may come before a judge. See Canons 1, 2, and 4, and Rules 1.2, 2.2, 2.10, 2.11, 2.13, 3.1, 3.7, 3.12, 3.13, 4.1, and 4.2.
“Impropriety” includes conduct that violates the law, except for traffic violations unless they also included a potential jail sentence, court rules, or provisions of this Code, and conduct that undermines a judge’s independence, integrity, or impartiality. See Canon 1 and Rule 1.2.
“Judicial candidate” means any person, including a sitting judge, who is seeking selection for or retention in judicial office by election or appointment. A person becomes a candidate for judicial office as soon as he or she makes a public announcement of candidacy, declares or files as a candidate with the election or appointment authority, authorizes or, where permitted, engages in solicitation or acceptance of contributions or support, or is nominated for election or appointment to office. See Rules 2.11, 4.1, 4.2, and 4.4.
“Law” encompasses all court rules adopted by the Nebraska Supreme Court, including the Workplace Harassment Policy and Drug-Free Workplace Policy, as well as statutes, constitutional provisions, and decisional law. See Rules 1.1, 2.1, 2.2, 2.6, 2.7, 2.9, 3.1, 3.2, 3.4, 3.7, 3.9, 3.12, 3.13, 3.14, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, and 4.5.
“Member of the candidate’s family” means a spouse, domestic partner, child, grandchild, parent, grandparent, or other relative or person with whom the candidate maintains a close familial relationship.
“Member of the judge’s family” means a spouse, domestic partner, child, grandchild, parent, grandparent, or other relative or person with whom the judge maintains a close familial relationship. See Rules 3.7, 3.8, 3.10, and 3.11.
“Member of a judge’s family residing in the judge’s household” means any relative of a judge by blood or marriage, or a person treated by a judge as a member of the judge’s family, who resides in the judge’s household. See Rules 2.11, 3.13, and 3.15.
“Nonpublic information” means information that is not available to the public. Nonpublic information may include, but is not limited to, information that is sealed by statute or court order or impounded or communicated in camera, and information offered in grand jury proceedings, presentencing reports, dependency cases, or psychiatric reports. See Rule 3.5.
“Personally solicit” means a direct request made by a judge or a judicial candidate for financial support or in-kind services, whether made by letter, telephone, or any other means of communication. See Rule 4.1.
“Political organization” means a political party or other group sponsored by or affiliated with a political party or candidate, the principal purpose of which is to further the election or appointment of candidates for political office. For purposes of this Code, the term does not include a judicial candidate’s campaign committee created as authorized by Rule 4.4. See Rules 4.1 and 4.2.
I. Applicability of this Code.
(A) All judges appointed pursuant to Neb. Const. art. V, § 21, acting judges of the Workers' Compensation Court, clerk magistrates, child support referees, and referees in civil and disciplinary cases shall comply with this Code except as provided below. In addition, candidates for appointment to judicial office shall comply with Rules 4.1 through 4.5.
II. Part-time child support referees, part-time clerk magistrates, and referees.
(A) Part-time child support referees are not required to comply with Rules 3.4, 3.8, 3.9, 3.10, 3.11(B), 3.11(C)(2), or 3.11(D) and shall not practice law in the court upon which they serve, but may practice law in any other court in matters not related to any proceedings in which they have served as child support referees.
(B) Referees, appointed in civil or disciplinary proceedings, while acting as such, are not required to comply with Rules 3.4, 3.8, 3.9, 3.10, 3.11(B), 3.11(C)(2), 3.11(D), 3.14(C), or 3.15. Persons who have served as such a referee shall not act as lawyers in any proceeding in which they have served as referees or in any related proceedings.
(C) Part-time clerk magistrates are not required to comply with Rules 3.4, 3.8, 3.9, 3.10, 3.11(B), 3.11(C)(2), 3.11(D) and shall not practice law in the court in which they serve, but may practice law in any other court in matters not related to any proceedings in which they have served as a clerk magistrate.
III. Retired judges.
(A) A retired judge who does not file with the Nebraska Supreme Court a statement of consent to be recalled for temporary judicial service or who is ineligible for judicial service need not comply with this Code, except as specifically provided.
(B) A retired judge who consents to be recalled for temporary judicial service shall comply with this Code. However, such judge is not required to comply with Rules 3.4, 3.8, 3.9, or 3.12. A retired judge who is subject to recall shall not practice law and shall refrain from accepting assignment in any case in which the retired judge's financial or business dealings, investments, or other extrajudicial activities might be directly or indirectly affected.
IV. Time for compliance.
A person to whom this Code becomes applicable shall comply immediately with all provisions of this Code except Rules 3.8, 3.11(A), and 3.11(B) and shall comply with these sections as soon as reasonably possible and shall do so in any event within the period of 1 year after assuming office.
Application I.(B) and II.(B) amended December 22, 2010, effective January 1, 2011.
(B) A judge shall not, in the performance of judicial duties, by words or conduct manifest bias or prejudice, or engage in harassment, including but not limited to bias, prejudice, or harassment based upon race, sex, gender, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, marital status, socioeconomic status, or political affiliation, and shall not permit court staff, court officials, or others subject to the judge’s direction and control to do so.
(C) A judge shall require lawyers in proceedings before the court to refrain from manifesting bias or prejudice, or engaging in harassment, based upon attributes including but not limited to race, sex, gender, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, marital status, socioeconomic status, or political affiliation, against parties, witnesses, lawyers, or others.
(D) The restrictions of paragraphs (B) and (C) do not preclude judges or lawyers from making legitimate reference to the listed factors, or similar factors, when they are relevant to an issue in a proceeding.
(A) A judge shall accord to every person who has a legal interest in a proceeding, or that person’s lawyer, the right to be heard according to law.*
(B) A judge shall be patient, dignified, and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers, court staff, court officials, and others with whom the judge deals in an official capacity, and shall require similar conduct of lawyers, court staff, court officials, and others subject to the judge’s direction and control.
(A) A judge shall not initiate, permit, or consider ex parte communications, or consider other communications made to the judge outside the presence of the parties or their lawyers, concerning a pending* or impending matter,* except as follows:
(2) A judge may obtain the written advice of a disinterested expert on the law applicable to a proceeding before the judge, if the judge gives advance notice to the parties of the person to be consulted and the subject matter of the advice to be solicited, and affords the parties a reasonable opportunity to object and respond to the notice and to the advice received.
(3) A judge may consult with court staff and court officials whose functions are to aid the judge in carrying out the judge’s adjudicative responsibilities, or with other judges, provided the judge makes reasonable efforts to avoid receiving factual information that is not part of the record, and does not abrogate the responsibility personally to decide the matter.
(5) A judge may initiate, permit, or consider any ex parte communication when expressly authorized by law* to do so.
(6) A judge may initiate, permit, or consider ex parte communications when serving on therapeutic or problem-solving courts, mental health courts, or drug courts, if such communications are authorized by protocols known and consented to by the parties. In this capacity, judges may assume a more interactive role with parties, treatment providers, probation officers, social workers, and others.
(7) A judge may initiate, permit, or consider ex parte communications with persons supervising individuals placed on pretrial release programs or house arrest programs, if such communications are authorized by protocols known and consented to by the parties.
(B) If a judge inadvertently receives an unauthorized ex parte communication bearing upon the substance of a matter, the judge shall make provision promptly to notify the parties of the substance of the communication and provide the parties with an opportunity to respond.
(D) A judge shall make reasonable efforts, including providing appropriate supervision, to ensure that this Rule is not violated by court staff, court officials, and others subject to the judge’s direction and control.
(A) A judge shall not make any public statement that might reasonably be expected to affect the outcome or impair the fairness of a matter pending* or impending* in any court, or make any nonpublic statement that might substantially interfere with a fair trial or hearing.
(B) A judge shall not, in connection with cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court, make pledges, promises, or commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial* performance of the adjudicative duties of judicial office.
(C) A judge shall require court staff, court officials, and others subject to the judge’s direction and control to refrain from making statements that the judge would be prohibited from making by paragraphs (A) and (B).
(D) Notwithstanding the restrictions in paragraph (A), a judge may make public statements in the course of official duties, may explain court procedures, and may comment on any proceeding in which the judge is a litigant in a personal capacity.
(E) Subject to the requirements of paragraph (A), a judge may respond directly or through a third party to allegations in the media or elsewhere concerning the judge’s conduct in a matter.
(1) The judge has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party or a party’s lawyer, or personal knowledge* of facts that are in dispute in the proceeding.
(2) The judge knows* that the judge, the judge’s spouse or domestic partner,* or a person within the fourth degree of relationship* to either of them, or the spouse or domestic partner of such a person is:
(c) a person who has more than a de minimis* interest that could be substantially affected by the proceeding; or
(3) The judge knows that he or she, individually or as a fiduciary,* or the judge’s spouse, domestic partner, parent, or child, or any other member of the judge’s family residing in the judge’s household,* has an economic interest* in the subject matter in controversy or in a party to the proceeding.
(5) The judge, while a judge or a judicial candidate,* has made a public statement, other than in a court proceeding, judicial decision, or opinion, that commits or appears to commit the judge to reach a particular result or rule in a particular way in the proceeding or controversy.
(b) served in governmental employment, and in such capacity participated personally and substantially as a lawyer or public official concerning the proceeding, or has publicly expressed in such capacity an opinion concerning the merits of the particular matter in controversy;
(B) A judge shall keep informed about the judge’s personal and fiduciary economic interests, and make a reasonable effort to keep informed about the personal economic interests of the judge’s spouse or domestic partner and minor children residing in the judge’s household.
(C) A judge subject to disqualification under this Rule, other than for bias or prejudice under paragraph (A)(1), may disclose on the record the basis of the judge’s disqualification and may ask the parties and their lawyers to consider, outside the presence of the judge and court personnel, whether to waive disqualification. If, following the disclosure, the parties and lawyers agree, without participation by the judge or court personnel, that the judge should not be disqualified, the judge may participate in the proceeding. The agreement shall be incorporated into a permanent record of the proceeding.
(B) A judge with supervisory authority for the performance of other judges shall take reasonable measures to ensure that those judges properly discharge their judicial responsibilities, including the prompt disposition of matters before them.
(A) In making administrative appointments, a judge:
(1) shall exercise the power of appointment impartially* and on the basis of merit; and
(2) shall avoid nepotism, favoritism, and unnecessary appointments.
A judge having a reasonable belief that the performance of a lawyer or another judge is impaired by drugs or alcohol, or by a mental, emotional, or physical condition, shall take appropriate action, which may include a confidential referral to a lawyer or judicial assistance program.
(A) A judge having knowledge* that another judge has committed a violation of this Code that raises a substantial question regarding the judge’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a judge in other respects shall inform the appropriate authority.*
(B) A judge having knowledge that a lawyer has committed a violation of the Nebraska Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question regarding the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects shall inform the appropriate authority.
(D) A judge who receives information indicating a substantial likelihood that a lawyer has committed a violation of the Nebraska Rules of Professional Conduct shall take appropriate action.
(B) A judge shall not retaliate, directly or indirectly, against a person known* or suspected to have assisted or cooperated with an investigation of a judge or a lawyer.
A judge may engage in extrajudicial activities, except as prohibited by law* or this Code. However, when engaging in extrajudicial activities, a judge shall not:
(E) make use of court premises, staff, stationery, equipment, or other resources, except for incidental use for activities that concern the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice, or unless such additional use is permitted by law.
(A) in connection with matters concerning the law,* the legal system, or the administration of justice;
(B) in connection with matters about which the judge acquired knowledge* or expertise in the course of the judge’s judicial duties; or
A judge shall not testify as a character witness in a judicial, administrative, or other adjudicatory proceeding or otherwise vouch for the character of a person in a legal proceeding, except when duly summoned.
A judge shall not accept appointment to a governmental committee, board, commission, or other governmental position, unless it is one that concerns the law,* the legal system, or the administration of justice.
(B) A judge shall not use the benefits or facilities of an organization if the judge knows* or should know that the organization practices invidious discrimination on one or more of the bases identified in paragraph (A). A judge’s attendance at an event in a facility of an organization that the judge is not permitted to join is not a violation of this Rule when the judge’s attendance is an isolated event that could not reasonably be perceived as an endorsement of the organization’s practices.
(A) Subject to the requirements of Rule 3.1, a judge may participate in activities sponsored by organizations or governmental entities concerned with the law,* the legal system, or the administration of justice, and those sponsored by or on behalf of educational, religious, charitable, fraternal, or civic organizations not conducted for profit, including but not limited to the following activities:
(2) soliciting contributions* for such an organization or entity, but only from members of the judge’s family,* or from judges over whom the judge does not exercise supervisory or appellate authority;
(3) soliciting membership for such an organization or entity, even though the membership dues or fees generated may be used to support the objectives of the organization or entity, but only if the organization or entity is concerned with the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice;
(4) appearing or speaking at, receiving an award or other recognition at, being featured on the program of, and permitting his or her title to be used in connection with an event of such an organization or entity, but if the event serves a fund-raising purpose, the judge may participate only if the fund-raising is incidental or the event concerns the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice; provided participation does not reflect adversely on the judge’s independence,* integrity,* or impartiality.*
(5) making recommendations to such a public or private fund-granting organization or entity in connection with its programs and activities, but only if the organization or entity is concerned with the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice; and
(1) Provide leadership in identifying and addressing issues involving equal access to the justice system; develop public education programs; engage in activities to promote the fair administration of justice; and convene or participate or assist in advisory committees and community collaborations devoted to the improvement of the law, the legal system, the provision of services, or the administration of justice.
(2) Endorse projects and programs directly related to the law, the legal system, the administration of justice, and the provision of services to those coming before the courts, and may actively support the need for funding of such projects and programs.
(A) A judge shall not accept appointment to serve in a fiduciary* position, such as personal representative, executor, administrator, trustee, guardian, conservator, attorney in fact, or other representative, except for the estate, trust, or person of a member of the judge’s family,* and then only if such service will not interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties.
(B) A judge shall not serve in a fiduciary position if the judge as fiduciary will likely be engaged in proceedings that would ordinarily come before the judge, or if the estate, trust, or ward becomes involved in adversary proceedings in the court on which the judge serves, or one under its appellate jurisdiction.
(D) If a person who is serving in a fiduciary position becomes a judge, he or she must comply with this Rule as soon as reasonably practicable, but in no event later than one year after becoming a judge.
A judge shall not practice law. A judge may act pro se and may, without compensation, give legal advice to and draft or review documents for a member of the judge’s family,* but is prohibited from serving as the family member’s lawyer in any forum.
(A) A judge may hold and manage investments of the judge and members of the judge’s family.*
(D) As soon as practicable without serious financial detriment, the judge shall divest himself or herself of investments and other financial interests that might require frequent disqualification or otherwise violate this Rule.
(A) A judge shall not accept any gifts, loans, bequests, benefits, or other things of value, if acceptance is prohibited by law* or would appear to a reasonable person to undermine the judge’s independence,* integrity,* or impartiality.*
(2) gifts, loans, bequests, benefits, or other things of value from a member of the judge’s family*;
(4) commercial or financial opportunities and benefits, including special pricing and discounts, and loans from lending institutions in their regular course of business, if the same opportunities and benefits or loans are made available on the same terms to similarly situated persons who are not judges;
(8) gifts, awards, or benefits associated with the business, profession, or other separate activity of a spouse, a domestic partner,* or other member of a judge's family residing in the judge’s household,* but that incidentally benefit the judge.
(b) an event associated with any of the judge’s educational, religious, charitable, fraternal or civic activities permitted by this Code, if the same invitation is offered to nonjudges who are engaged in similar ways in the activity as is the judge; and
(A) Unless otherwise prohibited by Rules 3.1 and 3.13(A) or other law,* a judge may accept reimbursement of necessary and reasonable expenses for travel, food, lodging, or other incidental expenses, or a waiver or partial waiver of fees or charges for registration, tuition, and similar items, from sources other than the judge’s employing entity, if the expenses or charges are associated with the judge’s participation in extrajudicial activities permitted by this Code.
(B) Reimbursement of expenses for necessary travel, food, lodging, or other incidental expenses shall be limited to the actual costs reasonably incurred by the judge and, when appropriate to the occasion, by the judge’s spouse, domestic partner,* or guest.
(C) A judge who accepts reimbursement of expenses or waivers or partial waivers of fees or charges on behalf of the judge or the judge’s spouse, domestic partner, or guest shall publicly report such acceptance as required by Rule 3.15.
(A) A judge shall publicly report the amount or value of the following, unless, with respect to subparagraphs (1), (2), and (3) below, the amount or value of such items, alone or in the aggregate with other items received from the same source in the same calendar year, does not exceed $100 in the case of compensation, a gift, bequest, benefit, or other thing of value or does not exceed $1000 in the case of a loan:
(1) compensation received for extrajudicial activities as permitted by Rule 3.12;
(2) gifts and other things of value as permitted by Rule 3.13(C);
(3) reimbursement of expenses and waiver of fees or charges permitted by Rule 3.14(A); and
(4) regardless of amount, compensation, fees, honorariums, gratuities, gifts, or contributions received pursuant to Rule 3.16.
(1) real property in the judge’s name or in which the judge has a direct ownership interest, except real estate valued at less than $1,000 and the judge’s personal residence (“personal residence” refers to the judge’s principal dwelling-house and adjacent land used for household purposes, such as lawns and gardens);
(2) other financial interests and property held during the reporting period with a fair market value of $1,000 or more, except household goods, personal automobiles, and other tangible personal property unless such property was held primarily for sale or exchange;
(3) creditors to whom $1,000 or greater was owed or guaranteed by the judge or a member of the judge’s family residing in the judge’s household,* except:
(a) loans from a member of the judge’s family*;
(c) accounts payable, debts arising out of retail installment transactions, and loans from lending institutions in their regular course of business, if such accounts, debts, and loans are made available on the same terms to similarly situated persons who are not judges.
(C) When public reporting is required by paragraph (A), a judge shall report the date, place, and nature of the activity for which the judge received any compensation; the description of any gift, loan, bequest, benefit, or other thing of value accepted; and the source of reimbursement of expenses or waiver or partial waiver of fees or charges.
(A) The performance of marriage ceremonies by a judge during courthouse hours is permitted if there is no gift, honorarium, or payment of any kind received for such service. Courthouse hours include all hours when the court is open and in session, or the clerk’s office is open, including noon/lunch hours.
(B) A judge may accept a reasonable fee, honorarium, gratuity, gift, or contribution* to perform a marriage ceremony during noncourthouse hours, whether the ceremony is performed in the court or away from the court.
(C) Compensation, fees, honorarium, gratuities, gifts, or contributions derived from marriages shall be subject to public reporting. See Rule 3.15.
(1) act as a leader in, or hold an office in, a political organization*;
(8) personally solicit* or accept campaign contributions other than through a campaign committee authorized by Rule 4.4;
(11) knowingly,* or with reckless disregard for the truth, make any false or misleading statement;
(13) in connection with cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court, make pledges, promises, or commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial* performance of the adjudicative duties of judicial office.
(B) A judge or judicial candidate shall take reasonable measures to ensure that other persons do not undertake, on behalf of the judge or judicial candidate, any activities prohibited under paragraph (A).
(A) A judicial candidate* in a retention election shall:
(3) review and approve the content of all campaign statements and materials produced by the candidate or his or her campaign committee, as authorized by Rule 4.4, before their dissemination; and
(4) take reasonable measures to ensure that other persons do not undertake on behalf of the candidate activities, other than those described in Rule 4.4, that the candidate is prohibited from doing by Rule 4.1.
(B) A candidate for retention election may, unless prohibited by law,* when the judge’s candidacy has drawn active opposition:
(1) establish a campaign committee pursuant to the provisions of Rule 4.4;
(4) attend or purchase tickets for dinners or other events sponsored by a political organization* or a candidate for public office; and
A candidate for appointment to judicial office may:
(A) except as prohibited by law,* communicate with the appointing authority, including any nominating commission; and
(A) A judicial candidate* subject to retention election whose candidacy has drawn active opposition may establish a campaign committee to manage and conduct a campaign for the candidate, subject to the provisions of this Code. The candidate is responsible for ensuring that his or her campaign committee complies with applicable provisions of this Code and other applicable law.*
(1) to solicit and accept only such campaign contributions* as are reasonable;
(2) not to solicit or accept contributions for a candidate’s current campaign more than six months before the applicable retention election, nor more than thirty days after the last election in which the candidate participated; and
(A) Upon becoming a candidate for a nonjudicial elective office, a judge shall resign from judicial office, unless permitted by law* to continue to hold judicial office.