Mark Brnovich's Wife, Judge Susan Brnovich: Did She Pull a Lester Pearce?
Former Superior Court Judge Colin Campbell's firm Osborn Maledon did the investigation into Lester Pearce for the Commission on Judicial Conduct.
Campbell, who has given advice to Judge Brnovich on this issue, cited what he referred to as the "leading paper" on the subject, entitled, "Political Activity by Members of a Judge's Family," which can be found on the American Bar Association's Web site.
The paper offers a survey of state rules restricting campaigning by judges. Campbell says he believes there is an exception under which Judge Brnovich would fall.
"Many state ethics opinions have held that that a candidate's campaign ads or flyers can identify a candidate's spouse by name and relationship as long as the material does not identify the spouse as a judge," he told me in a lengthy e-mail.
"Taking these authorities into account," he continued, "in my opinion, Judge Brnovich can participate in an interview with her husband, provided that she does not identify herself as a judge and limits her remarks to her marriage and family.
"In this situation, her role as a wife and mother is 'solely to the legitimate need of the candidate to present a full biography of himself.' The interview you note is well within these limitations. I suspect that 99.9% of the people who view the interview will not even know or recognize the wife as a judge."
Problem is, now that the genie has fled the oil can, a lot of people are going to know that Susan Brnovich is the wife of Mark and is on the bench.
Campbell also suggested that there could be, "a question whether a prohibition of speech under these circumstances, confined to statements as to her role as a wife to the candidate, is constitutional under the Arizona and United States Constitutions."
I asked him, since he was citing state rules, wouldn't Arizona's rules be paramount in this matter?
"The rules are remarkably consistent on this across the States," he replied. "The issue is what does the rule mean. Other states have address these issues in similar factual circumstances, but Arizona has not."
As I suspected, Ryan, who is a purist when it comes to such matters, was not convinced by Campbell's argument, which I sent to him in full, along with a link to the legal study Campbell cited.