USE OF COURT STAFF AND RESOURCES
FOR STATE BAR COMMITTEE WORK

Opinion No. 160 (1993)


QUESTION: May a judge who serves as chairman of a State Bar committee use court staff, equipment, postage, and long distance telephone service to conduct the business of the committee without violating the Code of Judicial Conduct?

ANSWER: Yes. Although Canon 5G prohibits a judge from serving on most governmental committees and commissions, an exception exists pursuant to
Canon 4A and 4B for participation in activities concerning the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice, all of which this Committee perceives to be appropriate judicial activities in the interest of the State and for its benefit. Being permitted to participate in such activities necessarily implies a judge does not violate the Code by using resources available to him to conduct the business of a State Bar committee that promotes the improvement of the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice. This Committee notes, however, that the use of any such resources in a manner that would cause a judge to violate the Code would itself also be a violation of the Code. For example, Canon 3 prescribes that judicial duties take precedence over all other activities. If by using court resources for the business of a State Bar committee a judge is unable to use the same resources to discharge his judicial duties, the use of the resources would be improper. Also, Canon 2A dictates that a judge comply with the law. If a judge were to use court resources in a manner that would cause the judge to violate the law, use of the resources would also violate the Code.