NOTE: Effective January 1, 2000, the "180-day Fundraising Period" in MCJC 7B(2)(c) has been replaced by a fund-raising period starting on February 15 of the year of the election.
January 30, 1990
It is improper for a judicial candidate to solicit campaign contributions before the judicial office is lawfully created.
References: MCJC 7B(1) and 7B(2).
A district court seeks to enlarge its bench by one seat. If approved by the Legislature, the judgeship would be filled by vote at the November, 1990, general election. A prospective candidate for the proposed judicial office asks when the candidate's campaign committee may solicit campaign contributions.
Campaign conduct for judicial office is governed by Canon 7 of the Michigan Code of Judicial Conduct, and MCJC 7B(2) governs the solicitation and acceptance of campaign funds "for a judicial office."
Once the judicial post comes into existence, a candidate may not personally solicit or accept campaign funds. However, the candidate may establish a committee of responsible persons to secure and manage the expenditure of funds for the campaign. The candidate's committee may solicit campaign funds no earlier than 180 days before a primary election or nominating convention, and may not solicit or accept funds after the date of the general election. MCJC 7B(2)(a), (b), and (c).
MCJC 7 is the exclusive authority for the timing of campaign solicitations. Until the judgeship has been created, there is no way to calculate solicitation "no earlier than 180 days before a primary election or nominating convention." Accordingly, a lawyer aspiring to become a judge must first await lawful creation of the judgeship prior to the solicitation of campaign funds.
Determining at what date a judgeship is "created" under this process, whether at the action of the legislature, the effective date of the legislative action, or the authorization by the county commissioners, is a question of law beyond the jurisdiction of this Committee.