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7 J. App. Prac. & Process 45 (2005)
Don't Shoot the Canons: Maintaining the Appearance of Propriety Standard

handle is hein.journals/jappp7 and id is 53 raw text is: DON'T SHOOT THE CANONS: MAINTAINING THE
M. Margaret McKeown*
Judges, especially appellate judges who usually bask in
anonymity, are very much in the news these days. The topic du
jour is recusal. No court or judge enjoys a safe harbor from
publicity in this arena. Whether it is the United States Supreme
2                                                    3
Court,' the federal district bench,2 a state supreme court, or a
county court,4 public scrutiny is rigorous. In most cases, the
issue is not an actual conflict of interest or a claim of actual bias,
but rather the appearance of potential bias in hearing a case
where a judge's impartiality is perceived to be in doubt. It is an
examination of this circumstance, which is generally cast as the
appearance of impropriety, that prompts this essay. In my view,
the appearance standard fosters public confidence in the
judiciary and augments judicial independence.
* Judge M. Margaret McKeown sits on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. She thanks her
law clerk, Catherine Crump (Stanford 2004), for her research assistance. Judge McKeown
is a member of the U.S. Judicial Conference Codes of Conduct Committee and the ABA
Joint Commission to Evaluate the Model Code of Judicial Conduct. The views presented
here are her own.
I. See e.g. Gina Holland, Scalia, Cheney Trip Stirs Protests; Critics See Conflict of
Interest in Case, Chi. Trib. 14 (Jan. 31, 2004); David G. Savage & Richard Serrano,
Ginsburg Stands by Involvement with Group, L.A. Times A14 (Mar. 14, 2004).
2. Jennifer 8. Lee, Judge Who Ruled on Forests Is Faulted for Energy Holdings, 152
N.Y. Times All (Aug. 6, 2003).
3. David Ammons, State Supreme Court Judge Disqualified From Case, Columbian
(Vancouver, Wash.) 2 (May 15, 2003) (describing the decision of a state supreme court
justice to recuse after visiting a sex-offender center while considering an appeal from its
4. Cathy Sorbo, Judicial Stress Lands on Hapless Litigants, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
B5 (Feb. 12, 2005) (judge sanctioned for wearing Wanna Piece of Me? T-shirt).

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