Virginia's Judicial System

Commonwealth of Virginia Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee Opinion 99-8

Date Issued: November 18, 1999

Substitute Judge's Listing of Judicial Status in Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directory


May a substitute judge list the judicial status in Martindale-Hubbell or other legal directories?



A lawyer who serves as a substitute judge on a part-time basis wishes to list his judicial position as part of the biographical data in Martindale-Hubbell, a legal directory available to the public but used principally by other lawyers.


Canon 6 of the Canons of Judicial Conduct provides that "substitute judges are required to comply with the Canons."

While listing objective factual material available to the public might appear to be innocuous, the Committee believes that a reasonable person, lay person or lawyer, using the Directory for its intended purpose of finding a lawyer could conclude that a lawyer holding substitute judge status would thereby have influence in the court in which he serves as a substitute or in other courts. The risk that the judicial status brings special influence with the courts should be avoided. Further, the listing of judicial status risks advancing the private interest of the substitute judge by using the prestige of judicial office.

Canon 2(A) requires judges, including substitute judges, to promote "public confidence in the integrity and partiality of the judiciary." Section B of the same Canon prohibits a judge from lending "the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interest of the judge." It is the opinion of the Committee that the listing of judicial status by a substitute judge may imply special influence in the courts and, further, lends the prestige of the judicial office to the private interests of the substitute judge.

The Committee is of the opinion that the listing would be improper.


Canons of Judicial Conduct, Canons 6, 2(A), 2(B).

Virginia Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee, Opinion 99-1.

All opinions shall be advisory only, and no opinion shall be binding on the Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission or the Supreme Court in the exercise of its judicial discipline responsibilities. However, the Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission and the Supreme Court may in their discretion consider compliance with an advisory opinion by the requesting individual to be evidence of a good faith effort to comply with the Canons of Judicial Conduct provided that compliance with an opinion issued to one judge shall not be considered evidence of good faith of another judge unless the underlying facts are substantially the same. Order of the Supreme Court of Virginia entered January 5, 1999.

This page last modified: November 19, 1999