This five-person committee of lawyers and judges does research and provides independent guidance to judges on issues that may violate the Code of Judicial Conduct. The committee helps ensure that judges operate with the very high standards of ethical behavior that the public has a right to expect.

Judicial Ethics Advisory Opinions

Date: April 30, 2024
Comments: May a Vermont assistant judge continue to serve as an auxiliary state police officer if the law enforcement duties are limited to boater and snowmobiler safety?


Date: December 4, 2023
Comments: May a Vermont Supreme Court justice serve as a mentor for a sitting member of the Vermont General Assembly who is seeking to satisfy the mentorship requirement under Vermont Rule of Bar Admission 12(a)(2)?


Date: October 7, 2022
Comments: May a probate judge publicly endorse or oppose a candidate seeking the office of probate judge a) who is running against the judge or b) who is seeking the office of probate judge in another county?


Date: May 5, 2018

  1. May a magistrate judge who previously served as staff attorney for the State Office of Child Support (OCS) preside over family court cases in which OCS is a party in the counties in which he worked, and if not, is there a time period after which he can do so?
  2. Is that magistrate judge required to disclose his prior employment in cases in which OCS appears outside the region in which he previously represented OCS?
  3. After appointment, may a magistrate judge continue to sit on the board of directors of a nonprofit community theater?
  4. After appointment, may a magistrate judge continue to volunteer for a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children with life-threatening medical conditions?


Date: April 15, 2016
Comments: May a newly appointed judge receive fees he personally earned from client accounts, to be collected during the winding-up of his interest in his former law firm and after he takes office? 2. May a newly appointed judge retain an interest in real estate co-owned with his former law partners and occupied by his former law firm?


Date: April 30, 2015
Comments: Is it proper for a probate judge to accept an appointment to serve on a state council or commission such as the Vermont Rail Council?


Date: April 29, 2015
Comments: Is a judge who is the first cousin once removed of a state's attorney required to recuse himself from cases in which the state's attorney or one of his deputies appear before him?


Date: December 16, 2013
Comments: May an elected judge serve on the board of a nonprofit educational and advocacy organization established to improve prison programming and reduce the number of incarcerated persons if the judge does not participate in fundraising?


Date: July 22, 2010
Comments: May a sitting judge run for election in one or more probate districts in addition to the judge's home probate district?


Committee Members

Eileen M. Blackwood, Esq.


Honorable Thomas A. Zonay

Chief Superior Judge

Honorable James R. Dean Mahoney

Probate Judge

Honorable Brian Valentine


Ian Carleton, Esq.


Contact Information

Kelly Smith
Vermont Supreme Court
109 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont 05609