Opinion No. 98-3
April 8, 1998
TOPIC: Candidate using "Judge" on political advertising.
DIGEST: A candidate who is not a judge may not use the "Judge" in advertising in a way that would make people think he or she already was a judge.
REFERENCES: Illinois Supreme Court Rules 67A(3)(d)(ii) and 67B(1)(c); In Re Tully, 2 Ill. Cts. Com. 150, 157 (1991).
A judicial candidate who is not currently a judge wants to use, on campaign literature and political buttons, his or her picture and his or her name followed by "Circuit Judge".
Is this appropriate political campaigning?
If a candidate is not a circuit judge, it would be misleading to use campaign buttons, advertising or literature that would give the impression that the candidate was currently a circuit judge. Rule 67A(3)(d)(ii) says:
A. All Judges and Candidates...A candidate for judicial a office shall not...knowingly misrepresent the identity, qualifications, present position or other fact concerning the candidate....
The Illinois Courts Commission found in In Re Tully, that then Circuit Judge John P. Tully violated Rule 67B(1)(c) when he allowed a campaign advertisement which was headed with the phrase "VOTE FOR JOHN P. TULLY APPELLATE COURT JUDGE" since it misrepresented the position that the judge currently held. While reprimanding him, the Commission noted that the statement was misleading and implied that the respondent was running for retention rather than election.
A candidate for judicial office who uses any campaign literature, advertisement or button which would mislead the reader to fairly believe that the candidate was already a judge or was running for retention as opposed to election, would violate the Code of Judicial Conduct.