Shake v. The Ethics Committee of the Kentucky Judiciary, 122 S.W.3d 577 (Ky. 2003)
Play time: 3:35 minutes
Vacating opinion of the Ethics Committee of the Kentucky Judiciary and finding no appearance of impropriety when a judicial officer serves without compensation on the board of directors of a non-profit local mediation organization:
Quote from the Court's Majority Opinion: We find no valid basis for the Ethics Committee's fear that litigants may feel compelled to choose mediation if the judge sits on a mediation organization's board. Under Kentucky's Model Mediation Rules, [footnote omitted] which were developed under the direction of this Court, a judge may refer a case to mediation regardless of whether the parties desire mediation. [footnote omitted] Although the decision to choose mediation is frequently made by the litigants, the fact that the judge sits on a mediation organization's board is an insignificant factor in the making of that decision by litigants when compared to the litigants' knowledge that the judge has the absolute discretion to order mediation even if they choose otherwise.
NOTE from the Dissent: 3 of 7 judges voted to adopt the Ethics Committee opinion that precluded judicial service on the non-profit mediation board.