OPINION 206
December 1960

HOSPITALITY BY AN INDIVIDUAL LAWYER TO A JUDGE - It is an open question whether or not an individual lawyer may with propriety give, in honor of a judge, a party to which many members of the bar in the area are invited.

Canons 1 3.

Question

Does the giving of a "fish fry," by an individual lawyer honoring a district judge, constitute a violation of the Canons of Ethics of the State of Texas?

Opinion

It is an open question, based entirely upon the intent of the individual lawyer and the circumstances surrounding the relationship between the judge and the lawyer whether or not such action violates any of the Canons of Ethics of the State of Texas. Relevant to this question are Canon No. 1 in a general way, and Canon No. 3, the essence of which is the prohibition of any attempt to assert personal influence on a court. Canon No. 3, however, does not forbid all hospitality to a judge. If it had been intended by this canon to condemn all hospitality to judges -- other than hospitality by Bar Associations or organized groups of lawyers -- the canon would have expressly so stated.

What constitutes "marked attention and unusual hospitality on the part of a member to a judge," as provided in Canon 3, is a matter of judgment to be viewed in the light of the customary practices in the community as well as the personal relationship which existed between the attorney and the judge before the judge was appointed or elected to office, as well as other like factors.

If a lawyer gives a large party for a judge, having in mind that this may place himself in better standing with the judge, such action would constitute a violation of Canon No. 3 and would violate at least the spirit of Canon No. 1. If, on the other hand, the size of the party and the other circumstances to be considered (including the nature of the lawyer’s practice and the prior relationship between the lawyer and the judge, as well as customary practice in the community) are such that the conduct does not constitute unusual attention and hospitality, then it must be concluded that no canon is violated. (9-0)