SALE OF REPORT ON DOCKET BY CLERK

Opinion No. 107 (1987)


QUESTION: Is it a violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct for a docket assignment clerk, an employee of a judge or judges, to sell subscriptions to attorneys and others, a report which the clerk compiles advising his or her subscribers of the disposition of and other docket information concerning completed jury trials?

ANSWER: The committee is advised that the docket assignment clerk in his or her discretion determines (1) the order of assignment of cases for jury trial; (2) the judge or court to whom a case is assigned or not assigned; and (3) whether, after a case is assigned, a formal written motion and hearing for continuance are required or whether the clerk will grant an "informal" continuance.

The committee is further informed that the funds received from the subscriptions are retained by the clerk. Canon 2 requires that a judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety. The committee observes no patent impropriety but respectfully suggests that the combination of the delegated authority to the clerk and the sale of the subscriptions by the clerk invites violation of the code.

CAVEAT: Any sanctions imposed for violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct are imposed against the judge(s), not the clerk.