Ethical Considerations in the Use of Judicial Stationery for Private Purposes

Posted: 5 Jan 2009

See all articles by Ray McKoski

Ray McKoski

University of Illinois Chicago School of Law

Date Written: January 3, 2009


The judiciary is endowed with great power and prestige in order to ensure its independence from the executive and legislative branches of government. Because of the serious threat to the integrity and independence of the judiciary caused by the misuse of the judicial office, a central purpose of all canons of judicial ethics is to eliminate abuse of a judge's power and prestige. The use of official court stationery for personal correspondence exploits the judicial office by creating the impression that the judge expects the communication to be given extra weight or special consideration because of the judge's official status. In examining the rule prohibiting the use of judicial letterhead for personal gain, this Article first reviews the prestige protecting provisions of the four ABA Model Codes of Judicial Conduct. Next, reoccurring problem areas are identified including the use of court letterhead in personal financial and business dealings, discharging parental responsibilities, private disputes, political activities, and charitable solicitations. Finally, the Article critiques the guidelines established in the 2007 ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct regarding the use of court stationery for letters of recommendation

Keywords: judicial ethics, judicial conduct, judicial discipline, model code of judicial conduct

JEL Classification: K40, K49

Suggested Citation

McKoski, Ray, Ethical Considerations in the Use of Judicial Stationery for Private Purposes (January 3, 2009). Penn State Law Review, Vol. 112, No. 2, 2007, Available at SSRN:

Ray McKoski (Contact Author)

University of Illinois Chicago School of Law ( email )

315 South Plymouth Court
Chicago, IL 60604
United States

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