So great is the public's esteem of the judicial office, that some attorneys will go to great lengths to obtain a judicial endorsement that can be used to solicit clients by implying he or she has a special relationship with one or more judges and thus is likely to obtain favorable rulings in court. An example of this was witnessed by the author on January 21, 2015, in an advertisement in which New Orleans attorney Morris Bart employed Greg Mathis, a former District Court Judge for Michigan's 36 District (1995-1998), to endorse him in a televised commercial. In the commercial (shown below), Mathis, wearing a judicial robe and using a courtroom as a backdrop, endorses Bart, who has paid the retired judge for his endorsement.
The portrayal conveys the message that clients would do well to hire Bart because he is looked upon favorably by Judge Mathis, and, by extension, other judges, and therefore is more likely to win cases. The commercial mocks the process by which justice should be administered, and is an affront to the many judges who maintain high standards of ethical conduct. In the case cited in Part 1, attorney Reines was disciplined (albeit rather lightly), for attempting to capitalize on the endorsement of a sitting judge. The question remains as to whether judges should be disciplined for accepting payment or other gratuity from an attorney who seeks his or her endorsement for commercial purposes. Disciplinary action would appear to be warranted whenever an officer of the court acts in violation of the American Bar Associations' Model Rules of Professional Conduct.