SENIOR JUDGE'S WIFE ON PAC

Opinion No. 123 (1988)


QUESTION: If a senior judge's wife becomes a member of a political action committee for a group of hospitals, does this in any manner constitute a violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct?

ANSWER: The code does not in any manner attempt to regulate the activities of a judge's spouse. Canon 2B does prohibit a judge from (1) allowing family members to influence his judicial conduct or judgment (2) allowing others to use the prestige of his office (in this case his title) to advance their private interests, and (3) allowing others to convey the impression that they are in a special positions to influence the judge.

Canon 2A admonishes judges to conduct themselves in a manner to promote public confidence, and Canon 3A(2) admonishes judges to be unswayed by partisan interests. The committee perceives no violation of the code if the senior judge's wife accepts the described appointment. However, if the judge perceives, in the acceptance of assignments, any impropriety or appearance of impropriety as a result of his or her spouse's appointments, refusal to accept such assignment or recusal after accepting the assignments would not be inappropriate.