Supreme Judicial Court Rules
Code of Judicial Conduct

Supreme Judicial Court Rules  Code of Judicial Conduct: Terminology

Effective Date: 01/01/2016
Updates: Adopted October 8, 2015, effective January 1, 2016

Table of Contents


"Close personal friend" means a friend whose relationship to the judge is such that the friend's appearance or interest in a proceeding pending or impending before the judge would require disqualification of the judge. See Rule 3.13

"Court personnel" means court employees subject to the judge's direction and control. See Rules, and 3.5

"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 2.112.13, and 3.13.

"Economic interest" means ownership of more than a de minimis legal or equitable interest. Unless 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 government securities held by the judge. 

See Rules 1.32.11, and 3.2

"Fiduciary" includes relationships such as executor, administrator, trustee, guardian, attorney in fact, or other personal representative. See Rules 2.113.2, and 3.8

"Fundraising event" means an event for which the organizers' chief objectives include raising money to support the organization's activities beyond the event itself. See Rule 3.7

"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 Rules, and 4.1

"Impending matter" is a matter that is imminent or expected to occur in the near future. A matter is impending if it seems probable that a case will be filed, if charges are being investigated, or if someone has been arrested although not yet charged. See Rules, and 3.13

"Impropriety" means conduct that violates the law, including provisions of this Code, conduct that constitutes grounds for discipline under G. L. c. 211C, § 2(5) , and conduct that undermines a judge's independence, integrity, or impartiality. See Rules 1.22.10, and 3.13

"Independence" means a judge's freedom from influences or controls other than those established by law. See Rules, and 3.13

"Integrity" means probity, fairness, honesty, uprightness, and soundness of character. See Rules, and 3.13

"Judicial applicant" means any person who has submitted an application for appointment as a judge in any court of the Commonwealth. See Rule 2.11

"Judicial nominee" means any person who has been nominated by the Governor to judicial office but who has not assumed judicial office. See Rule 2.11

"Knowingly," "knowledge," "known," and "knows" mean actual knowledge of the fact in question. A person's knowledge may be inferred from circumstances. See Rules, and 3.6

"Law" includes court rules and standing orders issued by the Supreme Judicial Court, the Appeals Court, the Chief Justice of the Trial Court, or a Chief Justice of a Trial Court Department, as well as statutes, constitutional provisions, and decisional law. Chapter 268A §§ 3 and 23(b)(2) provide that conduct explicitly recognized by another statute or regulation may supersede certain provisions of Chapter 268A . The Rules of the Supreme Judicial Court are considered regulations for this purpose. In several instances, provisions of this Code supersede provisions of  Chapter 268A . See Rule 1.1

"Member of the judge's family" means any of the following persons: a spouse or domestic partner; a child, grandchild, parent, grandparent, or sibling, whether by blood, adoption, or marriage; or another relative or person with whom the judge maintains a close family-like relationship. Residence in the household of a judge may be relevant but is not dispositive when determining whether a judge maintains a close family-like relationship with another relative or person. See Rules, and 4.1

"Member of the judge's family residing in the judge's household" means any of the following persons who resides in the judge's household: a relative by blood, adoption, or marriage; a domestic partner; or a person with whom the judge maintains a close family-like relationship. See Rules 2.11 and 3.13

"Nonpublic information" means information that is not available to the public. Nonpublic information includes information that is sealed or expunged by statute or court order, or information that is impounded or communicated in camera. See Rule 3.5

"Pending matter" is a matter that has commenced. A matter continues to be pending through any appellate process until final disposition. See Rules, and 3.13

"Political organization" means a political party or other group, the principal purpose of which is to further the election or appointment of candidates to political office or the passage or defeat of ballot questions. See Rule 4.1

"Specialty court" means a specifically designated court session that focuses on individuals with underlying medical, mental health, substance abuse, or other issues that contribute to the reasons such individuals are before the courts. Specialty court sessions integrate treatment and services with judicial case oversight and intensive court supervision. Examples include drug courts, mental health courts, veterans' courts, and tenancy preservation programs. See Rule 2.9

"Substantial value" means a dollar value determined by the State Ethics Commission in 930 C.M.R. 5.05. See Rules 3.13 and 3.15

"Third degree of relationship" includes the following persons: great-grandparent, grandparent, parent, uncle, aunt, brother, sister, child, grandchild, great-grandchild, nephew, and niece. See Rule 2.11.

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