Law and Contemporary Problems
The Judicial Ethics Education Project trains trial judges to be aware of ethical issues that arise in the trial process. The project employs case simulations that raise ethical and management issues requiring immediate attention during the course of a trial. The goal of the project is to provide sitting judges with a basis on which to make similar decisions during trials. The project grew out of and is incorporated into the Minnesota Judicial Trial Skills Training Program ("MJTSTP") at the University of Minnesota, which was created in 1986 by Professor Steve Simon and Judge Bertrand Portisky and is mandatory for all newly appointed or elected Minnesota trial judges.' It consists of a mock criminal trial scenario involving issues of scientific testing, control and management of firearms evidence, handling of exhibits, and use of documents. The volunteer attorneys are instructed to push the bounds of acceptable behavior and rules of evidence and decorum in the courtroom, giving the student judge an opportunity to exercise her administrative and adjudicative skills in a realistic setting. During the first eight years of its existence, the program did not focus on ethical issues. Issues of fundamental fairness and justice, however, were raised in the course of the trial. For example, one issue raised was when, if at all, a judge should intervene to "save" a criminal defendant from incompetent counsel. However, control issues and ethics issues are often intertwined, especially those concerning demeanor.2
Stephen M. Simon and Maury S. Landsman, Judicial Ethics Simulation Based Training, 58 Law & Contemp. Probs. 323 (1995), available at https://scholarship.law.umn.edu/faculty_articles/13.