November 9, 1995
Judicial Ethics Regulations Adopted
Administrative Director Casey L. Young has adopted regulations that set higher ethical standards for workers' compensation referees than are applicable to Superior and Municipal Court Judges.
The regulations, which will take effect on December 1, 1995, incorporate the standards in the California Code of Judicial Conduct, create additional standards and ethical safeguards, and create an Ethics Advisory Committee to provide a mechanism for the public to confidentially complain of ethical lapses and monitor DWC's response.
The new rules apply to all workers' compensation referees and to other DWC employees including the administrative director, to the extent they exercise judicial or quasi-judicial functions.
In addition to the rules set forth in the Code of Judicial Conduct, workers' compensation referees will be:
In addition, the administrative director will issue and make available advisory opinions on ethical issues of concern upon request of a referee or other person or upon his own initiative. This will allow the administrative director to particularize the ethical rules on a case-by-case basis. Over time, a detailed set of rules will be developed, tailored to ethical issues particular to the workers' compensation system.
- Prohibited from receiving a gift, payment, honorarium, travel, meal, or any other thing exceeding five dollars in value from attorneys who practice before them or whose interests are likely to come before them, or
organizations of such attorneys or other interests, without obtaining written approval from the administrative director. The Ethics Advisory Committee will receive copies of all requests and responses.
- Prohibited from maintaining an ownership interest in educational programs servicing the workers' compensation community, or otherwise having an economic interest in an educational program such that compensation is dependent upon the level of attendance.
- Required, when circumstances warrant, to take or initiate appropriate disciplinary measures when the referee becomes aware of unprofessional, fraudulent, or other improper conduct on the part of a referee, lawyer, party, witness, or other person who participates in the workers' compensation adjudicatory process.
The Workers' Compensation Ethics Advisory Committee will be comprised of nine members:
The committee will receive complaints, send complaints to the administrative director with a recommendation to investigate where warranted, monitor the outcome of investigations, and make public reports on the integrity of the adjudicatory process.
- a representative of organized labor
- a representative of insurers
- a representative of self-insured employers
- an attorney who formerly practiced before the WCAB and usually represented insurers or employers
- an attorney who formerly practiced before the WCAB and usually represented employees
- a presiding referee
- a referee or retired referee
- two members of the public outside the workers' compensation community.
The administrative director will be making the appointments to this committee in the near future and invites nominations from all segments of the interested public.
Please Note: A copy of the regulations, as adopted, can be obtained by calling the Division of Workers' Compensation at 415.972.0700.