JUDGE AS LESSOR OF LAW OFFICE TO
ATTORNEYS PRACTICING IN HER COURT

Opinion No. 153 (1993)


QUESTION: May a judge lease her former law office, of which she is the sole owner, directly to attorneys who will be practicing in her court?

ANSWERS: No. Canon 5C(1) provides that a judge should refrain from business dealings that tend to reflect adversely on the judge's impartiality, interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties, exploit her judicial position, or involve the judge in frequent transactions with lawyers or persons likely to come before her court. The committee believes that such a relationship constitutes a business dealing that falls within this prohibition. Because the judge's ownership interest is large, the relationship may create the appearance of impropriety.

Canon 5C(3) provides that a judge should manage her investments and other financial interest to minimize the number of cases in which she is disqualified. As soon as the judge can do so without serious financial detriment, she should divest herself of investments and other financial interests that might require frequent disqualification. See Judicial Ethics Opinion No. 129.