PREPARATION OF PLEADINGS

Opinion No. 104 (1987)


QUESTION: May a judge who handles a mental illness docket ethically prepare applications and other legal pleadings for persons who desire to commit someone to a mental hospital?

ANSWER: No, for several reasons. Canon 3A(5) prohibits a judge from directly or indirectly initiating, permitting, or considering ex parte communications concerning the merits of a pending or impending legal proceeding. Canon 2B admonishes a judge from lending the prestige of his office to advance the private interests of others. The giving of advice and preparation of legal instruments to be filed in court is considered practicing law, which is prohibited by Canon 5F of the Code of Judicial Conduct. Finally, for a judge to prepare legal instruments to be filed in that judge's own court poses a conflict of interest and would violate the intent and purpose of the Code.