Update on the Ethical Implications of Ex-Judge Posner’s New Book

After causing an uproar from his former colleagues with his new book, Reforming the Federal Judiciary: My Former Court Needs to Overhaul Its Staff Attorney Program and Begin Televising Its Oral Arguments, recently-retired Judge Posner has moved forward with his crusade with the announcement that he will be representing pro se litigants.

His announcement comes in the wake of an advisory opinion issued by the Judicial Conference Committee on Codes of Conduct that indicated that the release of the aforementioned materials would “violate the intent, letter, and spirit of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges.” Canon 4D(5) of the Code of Conduct for Judicial Employees states that a “judge should not disclose or use nonpublic information acquired in a judicial capacity for any purpose unrelated to the judge’s official duties.” The committee was adamant that Canon 4D(5), among others, would be violated if the materials were published.

Despite the looming ethical problem, Posner moved forward in representing pro se litigants. In an affidavit to the Fourth Circuit, Posner stated that he has decided to “dedicate [his] post-judicial career to helping pro se litigants.” In the affidavit, Posner requested to represent William C. Bond, a pro se litigant who sued government officials in federal court. Posner has also indicated that he will dedicate his salary, which will continue into his retirement, to fund a pro bono law firm.

The article discussing Posner’s decision to help pro se litigants can be found here, and the article discussing Posner’s pro bono law firm can be found here.