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Perhaps even more so than in the case of attorneys, conflicts of interest can prevent judges from carrying out their responsibilities. The Model Code of Judicial Conduct, which was drafted by the ABA and has been adopted by the majority of states, strictly forbids a judge from taking part in a case where the judge’s interest may conflict with his or her professional responsibilities. According to Canon 2 of the Model Code, “[a] judge shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all of the judge’s activities.” In a more specific provision, the Model Code states, “A judge shall not allow family, social, political or other relationships to influence the judge’s judicial conduct or judgment. A judge shall not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others; nor shall a judge convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge. A judge shall not testify voluntarily as a character witness.”

A judge who faces a conflict of interest in a case is expected to recuse himself or herself from the case. A judge who presides over a case where the judge has a conflict of interest could face impeachment from the bench.

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