Mark Brnovich's Wife, Judge Susan Brnovich: Did She Pull a Lester Pearce?
Although members of the families of judges and judicial candidates are free to engage in their own political activity, including running for public office, there is no "family exception" to the prohibition in paragraph (A)(3) against a judge or candidate publicly endorsing candidates for public office.
A judge or judicial candidate must not become involved in, or publicly associated with, a family member's political activity or campaign for public office. To avoid public misunderstanding, judges and judicial candidates should take and should urge members of their families to take reasonable steps to avoid any implication that the judge or judicial candidate endorses any family member's candidacy or other political activity.
Regular readers of this blog may recall that ex-Justice of the Peace Lester Pearce, brother of recalled, disgraced former state Senate President Russell Pearce, was censured and fined by Arizona's Commission on Judicial Conduct in 2012 for the campaigning he did for his brother back in 2011.
By the time the commission got around to dinging Pearce, he already had left office to run unsuccessfully for county supervisor.
Still, the commission's reproach will dog the ex-JP for the remainder of his days.
In the rarefied world of judges and lawyers, such rules are taken pretty seriously. And for good reason. The idea is to remove judges from politics as much as possible, so that justice will be blind, or as blind as we can make it.
Elections law expert Tom Ryan was one of the first persons to raise the issue with me. Ryan is the Irish wolfhound who pursued the Pearces throughout Russell's recall election, and he has been a fierce critic of Tom Horne's many ethical lapses.
He told me that he believed Susan Brnovich stepped over the line. He did not think the fact that she was not identified in the video let her off the hook. So I asked him, if he were advising the Brnoviches, would he tell them to jerk the video?
"If the Brnoviches were to call me, it would be an unqualified, `Hell yeah you yank it,"' he told me.
"The Canons of Judicial Conduct make it especially bad for judges to campaign for family members," he said, adding that, "This is very serious stuff."