This rule only applies to cases filed prior to December 31, 2010.
(A) Judicial Duties in General. The judicial duties of a judge take precedence over all the judge's other activities. The judge's judicial duties include all the duties of the judge's office prescribed by law.* In the performance of these duties, the following standards apply:
(B) Adjudicative Responsibilities.
(1) A judge shall hear and decide matters assigned to the judge except those in which disqualification is required.
(2) A judge shall be faithful to the law and maintain professional competence in it. A judge shall not be swayed by partisan interests, public clamor, or fear of criticism.
(3) A judge shall require* order and decorum in proceedings before the judge.
(4) A judge shall be patient, dignified, and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers, and others with whom the judge deals in an official capacity, and shall require similar conduct of lawyers and of staff, court officials, and others subject to the judge's direction and control.
(5) A judge shall perform judicial duties without bias or prejudice. A judge shall not, in the performance of judicial duties, by words or conduct manifest bias or prejudice, including but not limited to bias or prejudice based upon race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status, and shall not permit staff, court officials, and others subject to the judge's direction and control to do so.
(6) A judge shall require* lawyers in proceedings before the judge to refrain from manifesting, by words or conduct, bias or prejudice against parties, witnesses, counsel, or others based upon race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. This section does not preclude legitimate advocacy when race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status or other similar factors are issues in the proceeding.
(7) 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.* 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 concerning a pending or impending proceeding except that:
(a) Where circumstances require, ex parte communications for scheduling, administrative purposes, or emergencies that do not deal with substantive matters or issues on the merits are authorized;
(i) the judge reasonably believes that no party will gain a procedural or tactical advantage as a result of the ex parte communication, and
(ii) the judge makes provision promptly to notify all other parties of the substance of the ex parte communication and allows an opportunity to respond.
(b) A judge may obtain the advice of a disinterested expert on the law applicable to a proceeding before the judge if the judge gives notice to the parties of the person consulted and the substance of the advice, and affords the parties reasonable opportunity to respond.
(c) A judge may consult with court personnel* whose function is to aid the judge in carrying out the judge's adjudicative responsibilities, or with other judges.
(d) A judge may, with the consent of the parties, confer separately with the parties and their lawyers in an effort to mediate or settle matters pending before the judge.
(e) A judge may initiate or consider any ex parte communications when authorized by law to do so.
(8) A judge shall dispose of all judicial matters promptly, efficiently, and fairly.
(9) A judge shall not, while a proceeding is pending or impending in any court, make any public comment that might reasonably be expected to interfere substantially with a fair trial or hearing. The judge shall require* similar abstention on the part of court personnel* subject to the judge's direction and control. This section does not prohibit judges from making public statements in the course of their official duties or from explaining for public information the procedures of the court. This section does not apply to proceedings in which the judge is a litigant in a personal capacity.
(10) A judge shall not commend or criticize jurors for their verdict other than in a court order or opinion in a proceeding, but may express appreciation to jurors for their service to the judicial system and the community.
(11) A judge shall not disclose or use, for any purpose unrelated to judicial duties, nonpublic information* acquired in a judicial capacity.
(C) Administrative Responsibilities.
(1) A judge shall diligently discharge the judge's administrative responsibilities without bias or prejudice and maintain professional competence in judicial administration, and should cooperate with other judges and court officials in the administration of court business.
(2) A judge shall require* staff, court officials, and others subject to the judge's direction and control to observe the standards of fidelity and diligence that apply to the judge and to refrain from manifesting bias or prejudice in the performance of their official duties.
(3) A judge with supervisory authority for the judicial performance of other judges shall take reasonable measures to assure the prompt disposition of matters before them and the proper performance of their other judicial responsibilities.
(4) A judge shall not make unnecessary appointments. A judge shall exercise the power of appointment impartially and on the basis of merit. A judge shall avoid nepotism and favoritism. A judge shall not approve compensation of appointees beyond the fair value of services rendered.
(D) Disciplinary Responsibilities.
(1) A judge who receives information indicating a substantial likelihood that another judge has committed a violation of this Code shall take appropriate action. A judge having knowledge* that another judge has committed a violation of this Code that raises substantial question as to the other judge's fitness for office shall inform the appropriate authority.
(2) A judge who receives information indicating a substantial likelihood that a lawyer has committed a violation of the Nebraska Rules of Professional Conduct should take appropriate action. A judge having knowledge that a lawyer has committed a violation of the Nebraska Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as to the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects shall inform the appropriate authority.*
Amended July 13, 2005, effective September 1, 2005.
(3) Acts of a judge, in the discharge of disciplinary responsibilities, required or permitted by sections 3D(1) and 3D(2) are part of a judge's judicial duties and shall be absolutely privileged.
(4) Members of the Nebraska Judicial Ethics Committee are excepted from section 3(D)(1) concerning information obtained from judges seeking an advisory opinion.
(1) A judge shall not participate in any proceeding in which the judge's impartiality reasonably might be questioned, including but not limited to instances where:
(a) The judge has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party or a party's lawyer, or personal knowledge* of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceeding.
(b) The judge served as a lawyer in the matter in controversy, or a lawyer with whom the judge previously practiced law served during such association as a lawyer concerning the matter, or the judge has been a material witness concerning it.
(c) The judge knows* that the judge, individually or as a fiduciary, or the judge's spouse, parent, or child, wherever residing, 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 or has any other more than de minimis* interest that could be affected substantially by the proceeding.
(d) The judge or the judge's spouse, or a person within the fourth degree of relationship* to either of them, or the spouse of such a person:
(i) is a party to the proceeding, or an officer, director, or trustee of a party;
(ii) is acting as a lawyer in the proceeding;
(iii) is known* by the judge to have a more than de minimis* interest that could be affected substantially by the proceeding;
(iv) is to the judge's knowledge* likely to be a material witness in the proceeding.
(e) Any other instance where law* requires disqualification.
(2) A judge shall keep informed about the judge's personal and fiduciary* economic interests,* and should make a reasonable effort to keep informed about the personal economic interests of the judge's spouse and minor children residing in the judge's household.
(3) A judge shall disclose on the record information that the judge believes the parties or their lawyers reasonably might consider relevant to the question of the judge's disqualification, even if the judge believes there is no real basis for disqualification.
(F) Remittal of Disqualification.
A judge disqualified by the terms of section 3E may disclose on the record the basis of the judge's disqualification and may ask the parties and their lawyers to consider, out of the presence of the judge, whether to waive disqualification. If, following disclosure of any basis for disqualification other than personal bias or prejudice concerning a party, the parties and lawyers, without participation by the judge, all agree that the judge should not be disqualified, and the judge is then willing to participate, the judge may participate in the proceeding. The agreement must be in writing and filed in the court file of the proceeding.