CODE OF ETHICS FOR ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGES OF THE OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS
(Foreword: This Code of Ethics is adapted from the Oregon Association of Administrative Law Judges’ “Code of Conduct for Oregon Administrative Law Judges.” It is aspirational only, and describes the standards of professionalism which every Administrative Law Judge in Oregon’s Office of Administrative Hearings should strive to achieve. It does not supercede state law, Employment Department policy, collective bargaining agreement, or performance expectations of OAH management.)
MAINTAINING THE INTEGRITY OF THE
ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS PROCESS
1-101 (A) An Administrative Law Judge shall observe high standards of conduct so that the integrity, impartiality and independence of Oregon’s administrative hearings system is preserved, and shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the conduct of administrative hearings as a part of state government. Public confidence is promoted when an Administrative Law Judge conducts hearings in a dignified and respectful manner, and arrives at decisions in which facts have been found fairly and the law has been applied accurately.
(B) An Administrative Law Judge shall not engage in conduct that reflects adversely on the officer’s character, competence, temperament or fitness to serve as a Administrative Law Judge. An Administrative Law Judge shall not engage in conduct involving misrepresentation, fraud, dishonesty, deceit or felonious criminal behavior.
(C) An Administrative Law Judge shall not, in the performance of official duties, by words or conduct, manifest bias or prejudice based upon sex, race, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, age, or socioeconomic status.
(D) An Administrative Law Judge shall not allow family, social or other relationships to influence official conduct or judgment.
(E) An Administrative Law Judge shall not use the position to advance the private interests of the officer or any other person, nor shall an Administrative Law Judge convey the impression that anyone has a special influence with the ALJ.
(F) An Administrative Law Judge shall not testify as a character witness except pursuant to subpoena; however, an Administrative Law Judge may provide a character or ability reference for a person about whom the ALJ has personal knowledge.
IMPARTIAL AND DILIGENT PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL DUTIES
2-101 An Administrative Law Judge shall perform diligently all official duties.
2-102 (A) An Administrative Law Judge shall provide to all parties or participants in a proceeding, and to their legal representatives, the right to be heard according to law.
(B) The Administrative Law Judge shall comply with all applicable statutes, codes and ethical rules that define and regulate ex parte contacts as they relate to any matter before the officer. When applicable, the Administrative Law Judge shall specifically consider the enabling statute creating a central panel of hearings in Oregon , and the Oregon Attorney General’s Model Rules.
(C) An Administrative Law Judge may communicate
ex parte when circumstances require for scheduling, administrative purposes or emergencies that do not deal with substantive matters or issues on the merits, provided that the ALJ reasonably believes that no party will gain a procedural or tactical advantage as a result of ex parte communication.
(D) An Administrative Law Judge shall promptly disclose to the parties any communication not otherwise prohibited by this rule that will or reasonably may influence the outcome of an adversary proceeding. At a minimum, the disclosure shall identify the person with whom the communication occurred and the substance of the communication and the Administrative Law Judge shall give the parties a reasonable opportunity to respond to the information disclosed.
(E) This rule does not apply where the Administrative Law Judge is acting as a mediator.
2-103 An Administrative Law Judge shall not, while a proceeding is pending in any forum within the officer’s jurisdiction, make any public comment that might reasonably be expected to affect the outcome or impair the fairness of the proceeding. This rule shall not prohibit an Administrative Law Judge from making public statements in the course of official duties, from explaining for public information the procedures of the forum, from establishing a defense to a criminal charge or civil claim against the ALJ, or from otherwise responding to allegations concerning the ALJ’s conduct in the proceeding.
2-104 (A) Except as provided in (B) herein, the Administrative Law Judge shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the ALJ’s impartiality reasonably may be questioned, including but not limited to instances when:
(1) the Administrative Law Judge has a bias or prejudice concerning a party, a representative, or any other participant in the proceeding before the ALJ, or has knowledge, obtained from sources outside the proceeding, of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceeding;
(2) the Administrative Law Judge served as a lawyer in the matter in controversy, or a lawyer with whom the officer previously was associated served during the period of association as a lawyer in the matter, or the ALJ or the lawyer has been a material witness in the matter;
(3) the Administrative Law Judge knows that the ALJ, individually or as a personal representative, trustee, conservator or guardian, or the ALJ’s spouse, or any other person residing in the ALJ’s household has a financial interest in the subject matter of the controversy, is a party to the proceeding or has any other interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding. A financial interest exists when the decision regarding the subject in controversy may substantially affect the value of a legal or equitable interest owned by the Administrative Law Judge, the ALJ’s spouse, or residents of the ALJ’s household other than ownership interests in mutual or common investment funds, insurance policies or mutual savings associations.
(4) the Administrative Law Judge, the ALJ’s spouse, parent or child wherever residing, or any other person residing in the ALJ’s household:
(a) is a party to the proceeding or an officer, director, partner or trustee of a party;
(b) is acting as a lawyer in the proceeding; or
(c) is to the ALJ’s knowledge, likely to be a material witness in the proceeding..
(B) An Administrative Law Judge who may be disqualified under subsections (A)(3) and (A)(4) of this section may continue to hear the case under the following conditions:
(1) The Administrative Law Judge fully discloses to the parties the basis for the disqualification; and
(2) After the disclosure, all parties agree in writing or on the record of the proceeding that the Administrative Law Judge can continue.
2-105 An Administrative Law Judge shall be faithful to the law and shall decide matters on the basis of the facts and applicable law.
2-106 An Administrative Law Judge shall not be swayed by partisan interests, public clamor or fear of criticism.
2-107 An Administrative Law Judge shall maintain order and decorum in proceedings before the officer.
2-108 An Administrative Law Judge shall not act in a way that the officer knows, or reasonably should know, would be perceived by a reasonable person as biased or prejudiced toward any of the litigants, witnesses, lawyers or members of the public.
MINIMIZING THE RISK OF CONFLICT WITH OFFICIAL OBLIGATIONS
3-101 An Administrative Law Judge shall not serve as an officer, director, trustee or advisor of a private or public corporation or of an educational, religious, charitable, fraternal, political or civic organization if the corporation or organization recurrently participates in proceedings that would ordinarily come before the ALJ.
3-102 An Administrative Law Judge shall not use his or her official position to solicit funds for any private or public corporation or for any educational, religious, charitable, fraternal, political or civic organization or permit the use of the prestige of the office for that purpose, but may be an officer, director or trustee of such an organization. This rule does not prohibit an Administrative Law Judge from assisting an organization or governmental agency devoted to improvement of the law, legal education, the legal system or the administration of justice in raising, managing or investing funds nor does it prohibit the Administrative Law Judge from making recommendations to public and private granting agencies on project and programs concerning the law, legal education, the legal system and the administration of justice.
3-103 Nonpublic information acquired by an Administrative Law Judge in an official capacity shall not be used or disclosed for any purpose not related to official duties.
An Administrative Law Judge shall comply with applicable law and rules regulating confidential information.
3-104 Neither an Administrative Law Judge, the ALJ’s spouse, nor any other person residing in the ALJ’s household, shall accept a gift, bequest, or loan from any individual or legal entity who has a significant interest in a matter that is or will be pending before the ALJ.