DIVESTITURE OF STOCK OWNERSHIP

Opinion No. 36 (1978)

(Submitted contingently upon an affirmative answer to the question
set out in Opinion No. 35.)


QUESTION: What action, if any, under the Code of Judicial Conduct, should such district judge take to remove the cause of such disqualification of recusation?

ANSWER: Canon 5C(3) is explicit and mandatory. It requires that a judge manage his financial interests so as "to minimize the number of cases in which he is disqualified." Divestiture of investments resulting in frequent disqualifications must be accomplished "(a)s soon as he can do so without serious financial detriment."
Divestiture is mandatory; but the Committee is unwilling to set a specific time period within which such divestiture must be accomplished. The question posed must be answered by the individual judge bearing in mind the admonitions of Canon 3: "The judicial duties of a judge take precedence over all his other activities. His judicial duties include all the duties of his office prescribed by law." This requires that a judge be in position to dispose of all cases which reach his docket; and, if his financial affairs frequently prevent his acting on all such matters, he should consider becoming either an investor or a judge, but not a continuation of both activities.