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Did CJ breach judicial ethics code?

Publish date: 16 March 2012
Issue Number: 2997
Diary: Legalbrief Today
Category: General

Issues around Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng's request that senior members of the judiciary attend a 'leadership conference' hosted by a US Christian evangelist continued to bubble in the media yesterday when it was claimed his action was unethical.

A Mail & Guardian report says the response of several judges it spoke to the ranged from 'astonishment' at his lack of judgment and appreciation for the separation of church and state to 'deep concern' that he was 'grooming judges to attend prayer meetings and bring them around to his religious perspective'. Constitutional law academic at UCT, Pierre de Vos, reportedly pointed out a section of the draft code of judicial ethics that states: 'A judge does not lend the prestige of the judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others.' De Vos said: 'By asking judicial leaders to attend this seminar, the Chief Justice is thus promoting a private money-making scheme and in my view was in breach of this draft code, something that might well lead to censure by the JSC if it were to take its responsibility seriously and wanted to comply with its constitutional duty to protect the dignity and impartiality of the judiciary.' JSC spokesperson CP Fourie said the commission would 'first have to consider considering the matter' before it could decide to censure Mogoeng. 'Matters like these are usually dealt with during a sitting of the JSC (the next is scheduled for mid-April), but if a matter requires a special sitting of the JSC, we do so.' Fourie said the JSC process would 'take its course', but that the public could 'direct a complaint to the JSC secretariat' at any time. Full Mail & Guardian report