Virginia's Judicial System

Commonwealth of Virginia Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee Opinion 01-2

Date Issued: March 8, 2001

Judges as Fact Witnesses


May a judge testify as to facts witnessed while he was a practicing attorney but before he became a judge?

Answer: Yes


Canon 2B is emphatic in prohibiting judges from testifying as a character witness. It says succinctly, "A judge shall not testify as a character witness." However, judges may testify to factual matters that arose when the judge was an attorney but before he assumed the bench.

All opinions shall be advisory only, and no opinion shall be binding on the Judicial Inquiry Review Commission or the Supreme Court in the exercise of its judicial discipline responsibilities. However, the Judicial Inquiry Review Commission and the Supreme Court may in their discretion consider compliance with an advisory opinion by the requesting individual to be evidence of a good faith effort to comply with the Canons of Judicial Conduct provided that compliance with an opinion issued to one judge shall not be considered evidence of good faith of another judge unless the underlying facts are substantially the same. Order of the Supreme Court of Virginia entered January 5, 1999

This page last modified: March 12, 2001