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In re Order Amending Rules 2.3 and 3.6 and Comment To Rule 3.1

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

April 25, 2018

IN RE:ORDER AMENDING RULES 2.3 AND 3.6 AND THE COMMENT TO RULE 3.1 OF THE RULES GOVERNING STANDARDS OF CONDUCT OF MAGISTERIAL DISTRICT JUDGES

          ORDER

          PER CURIAM.

         AND NOW, this 25th day of April, 2018, upon the recommendation of the Minor Court Rules Committee; the proposal having been submitted without publication pursuant to Pa.R.J.A. No. 103(a)(3):

         It is Ordered pursuant to Article V, Section 10 of the Constitution of Pennsylvania that Rules 2.3 and 3.6 and the Comment to Rule 3.1 of the Rules Governing Standards of Conduct of Magisterial District Judges are amended in the attached form.

         This Order shall be processed in accordance with Pa.R.J.A. No. 103(b), and shall be effective July 1, 2018.

         Rule 2.3. Bias, Prejudice, and Harassment

         (A) A magisterial district judge shall perform the duties of judicial office, including administrative duties, without bias or prejudice.

         (B) A magisterial district judge shall not, in the performance of judicial duties, by words or conduct manifest bias or prejudice, or engage in harassment, including but not limited to bias, prejudice, or harassment based upon race, sex, gender identity or expression, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, marital status, socioeconomic status, or political affiliation, and shall not permit court staff, court officials, or others subject to the magisterial district judge's direction and control to do so.

         (C) A magisterial district judge shall require lawyers in proceedings before the court to refrain from manifesting bias or prejudice, or engaging in harassment, based upon attributes including but not limited to race, sex, gender identity or expression, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, marital status, socioeconomic status, or political affiliation, against parties, witnesses, lawyers, or others.

         (D) The restrictions of paragraphs (B) and (C) do not preclude magisterial district judges or lawyers from making legitimate reference to the listed factors, or similar factors, when they are relevant to an issue in a proceeding.

         Comment:

         [1] A magisterial district judge who manifests bias or prejudice in a proceeding impairs the fairness of the proceeding and brings the judiciary into disrepute.

         [2] Examples of manifestations of bias or prejudice include but are not limited to epithets; slurs; demeaning nicknames; negative stereotyping; attempted humor based upon stereotypes; threatening, intimidating, or hostile acts; suggestions of connections between race, ethnicity, or nationality and crime; and irrelevant references to personal characteristics. Even facial expressions and body language can convey to parties and lawyers in the proceeding, the media, and others an appearance of bias or prejudice. A magisterial district judge must avoid conduct that may reasonably be perceived as prejudiced or biased.

         [3] Harassment, as referred to in paragraphs (B) and (C), is verbal or physical conduct that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward a person on bases such as race, sex, gender identity or expression, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, marital status, socioeconomic status, or political affiliation.

         [4] Sexual harassment includes but is not limited to sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that is unwelcome.

         [5] The Supreme Court's Rules and Policies, e.g., the Rules of Judicial Administration and the Unified Judicial System Policy on Non-Discrimination and Equal ...


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