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9 St. Mary's Journal on Legal Malpractice and Ethics 238 (2019)


As the preamble to the Model Code of Judicial Conduct indicates, traditional notions of judicial ethics operate within a rule of law paradigm, which posits that the "three I's" of judicial ethics-independence, impartiality, and integrity-enable judges to uphold the law. In recent decades, however, social science, public opinion, and political commentary suggest that appointed judges abuse their independence by disregarding the law and issuing rulings in accord with their biases and other extralegal impulses, while elected judges disregard the law and issue rulings popular with voters, all of which calls the future of the three I's and judicial ethics itself into question. The time has come to rethink the role of judicial ethics in light of a new legal culture paradigm that better accommodates changing conceptions of the judicial role.